The Evening Blues - 10-20-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features folk musicians Old Crow Medicine Show. Enjoy!
Old Crow Medicine Show - Down Home Girl
“Redemption, n. Deliverance of sinners from the penalty of their sin through their murder of the deity against whom they sinned. The doctrine of Redemption is the fundamental mystery of our holy religions, and whoso believeth in it shall not perish, but have everlasting life in which to try to understand it.”
-- Ambrose Bierce
News and Opinion
For liberals across the spectrum, the temptation is real to lionize George W Bush now. Donald Trump is our child-king, slobbering over the country and embarrassing us all. He is parody made real, a lackey for rightwing billionaires everywhere. It’s not hard to find a talking head on the left who will say he is, without question, the worst president America has ever had. But don’t make that easy mistake. Especially not now as Bush, our 43rd president, rears his head from retirement to denounce his bombastic successor. At a speech in New York on Thursday, Bush set Democratic heartstrings aflutter when he declared that “we’ve seen our discourse degraded by casual cruelty”.
“Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone and provides permission for cruelty and bigotry,” he added. “The only way to pass along civic values is to first live up to them.” Bush delivered these words without mentioning Trump by name. The last Republican before Trump to serve as president, Bush lamented that America has seen “nationalism distorted into nativism, forgotten the dynamism that immigration has always brought to America”. ...
Devoid of context, Bush has a point. Trump is a bully who permits prejudice and cruelty. He doesn’t have much regard for internationalism. His impulses are isolationist in nature. What is ironic here is that Bush will undoubtedly be elevated to the status of a pious, gray-haired warrior speaking out in defense of the republic he once led, a talisman of decency for DC amnesiacs. He will be cheered as another brave Republican defying a president of his own party, his past rendered meaningless. ...
It was under Bush that America invaded Iraq, murdered hundreds of thousands of civilians, and destabilized the Middle East so thoroughly that it may take the entire 21st century to recover. More than 4,000 American soldiers died. He stocked his cabinet with warmongering neoconservatives far more cunning and apocalyptic in outlook than any of the amateurs who populate Trump’s gang. These were men who dreamed of civilization-annihilating wars and found a president willing to transform their dreams into crackling reality. The blood on Bush’s hands will never dry. Under the guise of spreading democracy, his administration brought suffering to the world and strangled civil liberties at home. ...
George W Bush sharply condemned bigotry, conspiracy theories and lies in American politics on Thursday, in what seemed to be a coded attack on the presidency of Donald Trump. Without mentioning Trump by name, the former US president urged Americans to reject white supremacy and embrace globalization in a speech organized by the institute that bears his name in New York.
“Bigotry seems emboldened,” said Bush, who has seen controversy over his 2001-09 presidency among liberals and abroad eclipsed by the outrage surrounding Trump. “Our politics seems more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and outright fabrication.”...
Bush took shots at the “governing class” while hinting at aspects of Trump’s presidency. “Our young people need positive role models,” he said. “Bullying and prejudice in our public life sets a national tone, provides permission for cruelty and bigotry, and compromises the moral education of children.”
While campaigning for his brother Jeb in the 2016 Republican primary, the former president took similarly veiled swipes at Trump. He and his father, the former president George HW Bush, skipped the Republican national convention where Trump was formally nominated last July, and declined to vote for Trump in the November election.
Bush did, however, attend Trump’s inauguration and reportedly told those around him of the latter’s speech: “That was some weird shit.”
2 big reasons Bush is being rehabilitated: 1) most elite institutions supported his crimes; 2) their architects work in biggest news outlets https://t.co/vfe30QB1fX
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) October 20, 2017
never forget the most consequential conspiracy theory in US history–that Iraq was behind 9/11–was pushed by Bush admin & mainstream US media https://t.co/m4Yoy5CRWV
— Adam H. Johnson (@adamjohnsonNYC) October 19, 2017
Ten years ago today, I informed Gordon England, then the Deputy Secretary of Defense, that I could no longer serve as chief prosecutor for the military commissions at Guantanamo Bay. I requested immediate reassignment to another post and, within an hour, my request was approved. Soon after, I received an order not to speak to anyone about why I quit.
Here’s why I quit. Earlier that day, I had been handed an order, signed by England, that reorganized the chain of command, effective immediately. The order had placed Air Force Brig. Gen. Thomas W. Hartmann above me, and it had placed William J. Haynes II, the general counsel of the Department of Defense, above Hartmann. Haynes, you might recall, signed the infamous torture memo — the one authorizing enhanced interrogation at Guantanamo that was approved by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. ...
Hartmann had arrived a few months before, in July 2007, to serve as chief counsel to the official overseeing the military commissions. He was anxious to get convictions and wanted me to use all evidence, regardless of how it was acquired. For two years, my policy had been that the prosecution would not use evidence obtained by torture, because evidence obtained by torture is tainted. By the end of his first month, Hartmann had already tried to challenge this well-established fact.
When I learned that two men who sanctioned torture were above me in the chain of command, I concluded that I could not ensure fair trials for the detainees at Guantanamo. Nor could I put my head down and ignore the fact that the United States employed a practice it had long condemned. I wish I could say that, in the following decade, the U.S. recovered from the shock of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, recognized the errors it made and regained its legal and moral standing on the issue of torture. That would be fake news.
According to Mike Pompeo, the agency he leads—which has supported coups across the globe, engaged in targeted killings, and led a detention and torture program—has not been nasty enough.
Speaking Thursday at a Foundation for Defense of Democracies forum, the CIA director, who has signaled suport for torture, said "we've now laid out a strategy for how we're going to execute our strategy with incredible vigor. We're going to become a much more vicious agency in ensuring that we are delivering this work. We are going to go to the hardest places with some of the hardest people and of our organization to crush it."
President Donald Trump, he said, "has promised that he will have our backs and that he will resource us."
CIA director Mike Pompeo has said North Korea is a few months away from perfecting its nuclear weapons capabilities.
“They are close enough now in their capabilities that from a US policy perspective we ought to behave as if we are on the cusp of them achieving” their objective of being able to strike the United States, Pompeo told a national security forum in Washington.
But he said there was a difference between having the ability to fire a single nuclear missile and the capability of producing large amounts of fissile material and developing an arsenal of such weapons.
Pompeo said intelligence on North Korea was imperfect and “when you’re now talking about months, our capacity to understand that at a detailed level is in some sense irrelevant”, he said.
“We are at a time where the president has concluded that we need a global effort to ensure Kim Jong-un doesn’t have that capacity,” Pompeo told the forum, organised by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies thinktank.
Russia will respond immediately and symmetrically if the United States quits the intermediate-range nuclear forces treaty, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday.
The Spanish prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, has vowed to return Catalonia to the rule of law as his government prepares to announce unprecedented measures to head off the independence crisis by imposing direct rule from Madrid.
Speaking at the EU summit in Brussels on Friday, a day after he confirmed that article 155 of the Spanish constitution would be invoked to begin the process of suspending key elements of Catalonia’s self-rule, Rajoy said his government had two clear aims. “The goal is a double one,” he said. “To return to the observance of the law – because you can’t have a part of the country where the law is not obeyed – and, at the same time, to bring about a return to institutional normality.”
Rajoy added that his response had the backing of the Spanish socialist party (PSOE) and the centrist Ciudadanos, or Citizens, party.
The Spanish cabinet is to hold an emergency meeting on Saturday to decide the precise nature of its intervention in Catalonia, which, as an autonomous region, controls its own education, healthcare and policing. Its proposals will be put before the Spanish senate next week.
The white supremacist Richard Spencer took the stage at the University of Florida on Thursday after his supporters threatened to sue if he was not allowed to speak.
But minutes after he began to talk, the majority of the crowd of hundreds in the auditorium stood together, raised their fists, and started chanting “Go home, Spencer! Go home, Spencer!”
For the next hour, most of the crowd stayed standing, booing and chanting over Spencer’s remarks as he angrily compared the crowd to a mob and to “immature preschoolers who aren’t ready for ideas that might get a bit challenging”.
“You can’t hide,” the audience chanted back at him, “You support genocide!”
Over the screams and boos, Spencer answered a series of audience questions but spent much of his time berating the crowd, many of them University of Florida students, for heckling him.
“You are trying to shut down a dissident intellectual,” Spencer told the roaring crowd. He reproached them for not appreciating “the most important free speech event of your lifetime”.
Three white supremacists were arrested Thursday for allegedly shooting at protesters holding anti-Nazi signs following Richard Spencer’s speech at the University of Florida. Colton Fears, 28, and his brother William Fears, 30, from Pasadena, Texas, and Tyler Tenbrink, 28, from Richmond Texas, were charged with attempted homicide and are being held in Alachua County Jail. ...
The incident took place shortly before 5:30 p.m., so about an hour after Spencer’s speech wrapped up. According to police reports, four men in a silver Jeep pulled up to where a group of protesters were sitting at a bus stop, not far from campus, and started shouting “Heil Hitler” and other slogans. In response, one of the protesters struck the vehicle with a baton. The car then sped way for about 10 feet, before stopping abruptly.
Tenbrink got out of the vehicle, according to the report, and pointed a handgun at the group. The Fears brothers began shouting “Kill them,”“shoot them,” and “I’m going to fucking kill you,” according to reports. Tenbrink fired one bullet, which missed the victim and hit the building behind him. The three men got back into the car and fled eastbound, and were ultimately apprehended by Alachua County deputies.
A federal judge ruled Thursday that President Donald Trump’s pardon of former Sheriff Joe Arpaio does not erase his conviction for criminal contempt of court, rejecting arguments from Arpaio and the Department of Justice to vacate all the rulings in his criminal case.
“The Court found Defendant guilty of criminal contempt. The President issued the pardon. Defendant accepted. The pardon undoubtedly spared Defendant from any punishment that might otherwise have been imposed. It did not, however, ‘revise the historical facts’ of this case,” Senior U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton wrote in a four-page opinion.
Arpaio immediately filed a notice of appeal to the 9th Circuit on Thursday night.
Bolton’s ruling is consistent with guidance on the Department of Justice website that “a pardoned offense would not be removed from your criminal record.” Notwithstanding that language, the Justice Department previously agreed with Arpaio’s lawyers that his conviction should be erased. It’s not yet clear whether the federal government will agree with Arpaio on appeal as well.
If you're a Texan looking to rebuild in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, you’d better not boycott Israel. That’s the message being sent by the state, which has banned any contractor who supports the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions, or BDS, campaign from receiving state funds.
If you’re confused why the two things are related, look to a bill that Texas’s Republican Gov. Greg Abbott signed into law in July. House Bill 89 prohibits the state from entering into contract with a business unless it “does not boycott Israel; and will not boycott Israel during the term of the contract.” The law applies even to businesses that would refuse to buy products made in illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land — as it defines Israel as both Israel proper and “Israeli-controlled territory.” ...
Texas’s law is similar to the Kansas law that went into force this past summer. Under that law, a teacher is being punished for following her Mennonite Church’s guidance to boycott some companies that do business related to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians. The American Civil Liberties Union has filed suit, saying that the law is unconstitutional.
As part of its legal complaint, the ACLU is citing the 1982 Supreme Court decision NAACP v. Claiborne Hardware Co. This case revolved around a group of NAACP activists and others, who boycotted certain white merchants over demands for desegregation. The white merchants took legal action to attempt to recoup damages from the boycott. The case went all the way up to the Supreme Court, which unanimously decided that the government can’t prohibit politically motivated boycotts.
The number of US adults without health insurance is up nearly 3.5 million this year, as rising premiums and political turmoil over Obamacare undermine coverage gains that drove the nation’s uninsured rate to a historic low.
That finding is based on the latest installment of a major survey, released on Friday. The Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index asks a random sample of 500 people each day whether they have health insurance. The survey found that the uninsured rate among adults was 12.3% during the period from 1 July to 30 September, an increase of 1.4 percentage points since the end of last year. The increase in the number of uninsured is more striking because it comes at a time of economic growth and low unemployment.
The annual sign-up season for subsidized private insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act starts 1 November, but it may not make much of a difference.
Donald Trump has stopped federal payments that reimburse insurers for lower co-pays and deductibles that the Obama-era law requires them to provide to people with modest incomes. His administration slashed the advertising budget for 2018 sign-ups, cut the length of open enrollment in half, and sharply reduced federal grants to groups that help consumers navigate the process.
Read this. It's important.
Which of these would you name as the world’s most pressing environmental issue? Climate breakdown, air pollution, water loss, plastic waste or urban expansion? My answer is none of the above. Almost incredibly, I believe that climate breakdown takes third place, behind two issues that receive only a fraction of the attention. ...
One is industrial fishing, which, all over the blue planet, is now causing systemic ecological collapse. The other is the erasure of non-human life from the land by farming. And perhaps not only non-human life. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, at current rates of soil loss, driven largely by poor farming practice, we have just 60 years of harvests left. And this is before the Global Land Outlook report, published in September, found that productivity is already declining on 20% of the world’s cropland.
The impact on wildlife of changes in farming practice (and the expansion of the farmed area) is so rapid and severe that it is hard to get your head round the scale of what is happening. A study published this week in the journal Plos One reveals that flying insects surveyed on nature reserves in Germany have declined by 76% in 27 years. The most likely cause of this Insectageddon is that the land surrounding those reserves has become hostile to them: the volume of pesticides and the destruction of habitat have turned farmland into a wildlife desert. ...
Insects, of course, are critical to the survival of the rest of the living world. Knowing what we now know, there is nothing surprising about the calamitous decline of insect-eating birds. Those flying insects – not just bees and hoverflies but species of many different families – are the pollinators without which a vast tract of the plant kingdom, both wild and cultivated, cannot survive. The wonders of the living planet are vanishing before our eyes. Well, I hear you say, we have to feed the world. Yes, but not this way. As a UN report published in March explained, the notion that pesticide use is essential for feeding a growing population is a myth. A recent study in Nature Plants reveals that most farms would increase production if they cut their use of pesticides. A study in the journal Arthropod-Plant Interactions shows that the more neonicotinoid pesticides were used to treat rapeseed crops, the more their yield declines. Why? Because the pesticides harm or kill the pollinators on which the crop depends. Farmers and governments have been comprehensively conned by the global pesticide industry.
Major Victories for Climate Movement, But Global Chaos Grows: Roundtable with Leaders on What’s Next
In addition to mounting a "horrific" assault on life-saving social safety net programs like Medicaid and Medicaid, the GOP-crafted budget resolution passed by 51 Republican senators late Thursday also lays the groundwork for "drastic cuts" to programs that help shield the nation's land, air, and water from exploitation by big polluters.
"Adding insult to injury," 51 Republicans also teamed up with Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) to thwart an amendment to their budget that would have barred drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).
In a statement on Friday, Jennie Olson of Environment America said the GOP's decision to kill the amendment—crafted by a group of Senate Democrats—opens the pristine refuge to "irreversible damage...just so corporate polluters can make a profit."
Taking 9 Million Lives Per Year, Pollution Bigger Killer Than War, Tobacco, and Various Diseases Combined
Pollution, "one of the great existential challenges of the Anthropocene epoch," kills 9 million people per year. That's more than the number of deaths caused by tobacco, three times as many deaths caused by AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, and 15 times as many deaths caused by war and other violence. The data comes from a new global study on pollution and health published in The Lancet, which calls for a mobilization of both resources and political will to tackle the worldwide and costly menace.
"Pollution is much more than an environmental challenge—it is a profound and pervasive threat that affects many aspects of human health and wellbeing. It deserves the full attention of international leaders, civil society, health professionals, and people around the world," says Professor Philip Landrigan of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and co-leader of the two-year, international Lancet Commission. Air pollution, including indoor and outdoor, plays the biggest role in pollution-related deaths (6.5 million deaths in 2015 ), and is linked to heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and COPD. Polluted water, workplace pollution (such as asbestos exposure), and lead pollution also add to the death toll—which researchers say is likely an underestimate.
The bulk of pollution-related deaths (92 percent) strike in low- and middle-income countries. India and China tallied the highest numbers of such deaths, with 2.5 million and 1.8 million respectively. In addition, the researchers note, across the board, the deaths are most prevalent among minorities and the marginalized.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Old Crow Medicine Show - I Hear Them All
Old Crow Medicine Show - Wagon Wheel
Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show - The Weight
Old Crow Medicine Show - Alabama High Test
Old Crow Medicine Show - Caroline
Mumford and Sons, Edward Sharpe, The Old Crow Medicine Show - This Train Is Bound For Glory
Old Crow Medicine Show - Tear It Down
Old Crow Medicine Show - James River Blues
Old Crow Medicine Show - Raise A Ruckus
John Prine & Old Crow Medicine Show - Lake Marie
Old Crow Medicine Show - Minglewood Blues