The Evening Blues - 10-9-18
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features boogie woogie and blues piano player Cow Cow Davenport. Enjoy!
Cow Cow Davenport - Mama Don't Allow No Easy Riders Here
“People have only as much liberty as they have the intelligence to want and the courage to take.”
-- Emma Goldman
News and Opinion
A radical change in human behavior away from its patterns of oppression, exploitation, war and ecocide will necessarily involve a drastic transformation in humanity’s relationship with thought. I’ve been saying this over and over again in different ways for a long time now, and yet I still get criticisms saying that I have useful insights but I don’t provide any plan of action. The transformation in human consciousness is the plan of action. I really don’t know how to say it any clearer than that. And I will go so far as to say that that it is the only plan of action which will pull us out of our destructive patterns and into a healthy state of collaboration with each other and with our ecosystem. Unless we radically change the way we function above the neck, we will keep killing, consuming and destroying like a bunch of mindless automatons until everything is dead. I really don’t see any other way out of this.
I understand the criticism, though. When people read about the problem of capitalist ecocide and oligarchic strangulation, they don’t want to hear a bunch of stuff about mass ego death and spiritual enlightenment, they want to hear about nationwide demonstrations or organizing the working class or forming a new political party or cryptocurrencies or ending the Federal Reserve, or something along those lines depending on where they believe the problem is localized. In general, they want a fairy tale about people coming together to effect drastic, sweeping changes and turn the status quo on its head, which they will do because something something reasons, cough cough.
Seriously, why do people think revolution happens? Why do they believe their ideas have a chance of winning out over the existing paradigm? ... People are not going to deviate from their patterns and suddenly begin shrugging off ruling power structures for no reason. Revolutions historically happen for one of two reasons: (1) things get sufficiently bad to make people lash out against their government out of sheer desperation, and/or (2) people are manipulated into revolting by other powerful forces. Historically neither of these things ever lead to the creation of a stable, beneficent government that takes good care of its citizens or the world, so neither will be sufficient for creating a world in which humanity takes good care of itself and its environment, and even if that were not the case it’s unlikely that either will ever be allowed to occur by an establishment so powerful and skillful at manipulation as the US-centralized empire.
So if there is to be a people’s revolution which is effective in both (A) removing our oligarchic oppressors from power and (B) leading to the creation of a healthy, harmonious new paradigm, it will necessarily come from a place that is historically unprecedented. It will involve people rising up against existing power structures not because things got so bad they had no choice, nor because they were manipulated into it by other rival power structures, but because people realized collectively that it is in their best interests to do so. This would require a level of wisdom and insight that the majority of human beings simply do not possess right now. Right now, most people are very easily manipulated into advancing establishment interests by plutocrat-controlled media, and until that changes there will never be an effective and beneficial revolution.
In a compelling essay for The New York Review of Books this month, Christopher R. Browning, a leading historian of the Holocaust and Nazism, outlines the frightening parallels between the United States and the Weimar Republic. “No matter how and when the Trump presidency ends,” he writes, “the specter of illiberalism will continue to haunt American politics.”
Jason Stanley would agree. A professor of philosophy at Yale University and the author of “How Fascism Works,” he contends that failures of democratic governance have forged a society eerily reminiscent of pre-war Germany—one in which there’s a growing appetite for the kind of ultranationalism espoused by Donald Trump. Indeed, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly praised the Immigration Act of 1924, which not only created quotas and bans on certain immigrant communities but served as a model of sorts for Hitler’s “Mein Kampf.”
“The idea in fascism is to destroy economic politics,” Stanley tells Robert Scheer in the latest episode of “Scheer Intelligence.” “The corporatists side with politicians who use fascist tactics because they are trying to divert people’s attention from the real forces that cause the genuine anxiety they feel.”
This anxiety is not exclusively or even primarily economic. As Stanley is careful to point out, people of color have suffered far greater hardship, and yet they are increasingly drawn to progressive populism. Instead, he posits, Trump and his ilk are channeling a noxious strain of patriotism that creates a nostalgia for a past that never existed. “When you see the dominant group made to feel like they’re the victims in the face of all the facts,” Stanley notes, “that’s when you know that fascist politics is taking grip.”
[Transcript at link. - js]
Hundreds of academics, journalists, and human rights advocates are calling for the release of Lara Alqasem, an American student who has been detained at Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv for a week after being accused of promoting the Boycott, Divest, and Sanction (BDS) movement led by Palestinians and supported by those who oppose the Israeli occupation, its apartheid policies, and its ongoing violation of international laws.
Alqasem has been detained by Israeli authorities since arriving in Israel last Tuesday to study human rights at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her deportation was ordered despite the fact that she holds a student visa. Her detention is now the longest ever in a BDS-related case, and has drawn condemnation from critics of the country that claims to embrace democratic ideals. ...
The Israeli strategic affairs minister, Gilad Erdan, offered to release Alqasem if she apologizes and renounces the BDS movement. Appealing the government's decision to detain her, the student has argued that she never actively participated in a boycott and said she would not promote them in the future. Her supporters argue that such promises are beside the point, however, calling on Israel to end its intimidation of critics and the suppression of free speech.
"Alqasem shouldn't have to commit to anything. Boycotts are a legitimate tool for expressing political protest in a democratic country, whether we're talking about that country's citizens or foreigners who received visas to enter," wrote the editorial board of Haaretz on Monday.
Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, will resign at the end of the year. The former governor of South Carolina reportedly offered her resignation to President Donald Trump last week, which he accepted, according to Axios.
Within half an hour of the news breaking, Haley and Trump met in the Oval Office in an event open to the press, where Trump confirmed Haley’s resignation but said she’s able to return to the administration in any capacity, adding “she’s very special to me.” Haley will leave her post at the end of the year, Trump said.
Yesterday, the watchdog organization Citizens for Ethics called for an investigation into Haley’s use of gifted flights on private planes, though it's unclear whether that action is at all related to Haley’s reported resignation.
As Nikki Haley Resigns, Critics Forced to Clarify That "Pro-War, Pro-Imperialist" Sycophant for Trump Is No "Moderate"
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley unexpectedly announced her resignation on Tuesday, but informed critics are raising their voices in the aftermath of the news to make sure nobody gets away with describing the outgoing diplomat—who said she will serve in the position until the end of the year—as anything other than what she is: a sycophant for President Donald Trump and a horrible war-monger who used her powerful position to push a neoconservative foreign policy while undermining global goodwill, overtly attacking human rights, and making the world a more dangerous place.
While some news outlets and commenters ignored historical evidence as they attempted to frame Haley as a "moderate" voice in the Trump administration and Republicans applauded her "moral clarity," progressive critics hit back hard against such blatantly false characterizations.
"Moderate?" exclaimed political commentator Amir Amini in a tweet responding the New York Times' story about the surprise resignation. "Haley spent every minute of her time at the UN threatening innocent nations w/ war, terror and literally bullying and trying to blackmail (and miserably failing) the entire [world] into supporting her agenda dictated by the military industrial complex." ...
According to journalist Glenn Greenwald, the reason outlets like the Times describe Haley as a "moderate" is "because she affirms all of the standard pro-war, pro-imperial orthodoxies that are bipartisan consensus in Washington. That's why [Bill Kristol, founder and editor of the right-wing The Weekly Standard] reveres her. She was a Tea Party candidate, but 'moderate' means: loves U.S. wars & hegemony." Before Trump's hiring of John Bolton as National Security Adviser, Greenwald added, "Haley was probably the most pro-war, pro-imperialist high-ranking Trump official, and therefore the most beloved Trump official by the war-loving U.S. media. She held every conventional foreign policy view that has generated so much destruction."
A card-carrying neo-Nazi who attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville was sentenced to 14 years in federal prison Friday for stopping an Amtrak train in Nebraska to “save the train from black people.”
Pictures of Taylor Michael Wilson marching in Charlottesville started circulating online over the weekend after news broke that the 25-year-old Missourian had been sentenced for the Oct. 23, 2017, train incident, deemed an act of "domestic terror." Wilson broke into the secure engine compartment of an Amtrak train as it traveled through rural Nebraska, and pulled the emergency brake, bringing it to a screeching halt. As passengers received word that someone had broken into the compartment, some panicked and tried to escape through the train’s windows, according to court documents.
Two months earlier, Wilson had traveled to Charlottesville to participate in the violent ‘Unite the Right” rally, according to the complaint, and video stills that surfaced Saturday showed him marching alongside James Alex Fields Jr., the young neo-Nazi who rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, sending bodies flying and killing Heather Heyer. ...
When law enforcement apprehended Wilson on the train, they discovered he was armed with a fully loaded .38 caliber handgun and a loaded speedloader. Passengers also found his backpack containing another four loaded speedloaders, ammunition, a knife, a hammer and a gas mask. At the time of his arrest, Wilson was also carrying his membership card to National Socialist Movement, a hardcore neo-Nazi group.
Three cheers for the man who made Justice Rapey McPerjurer's appointment possible. Oh wait, I only have two middle fingers, darnit.
Obama’s Resistance to Investigating the Bush Administration Allowed Brett Kavanaugh to Skate Onto the Supreme Court
One of Barack Obama’s first decisions after being elected president continued to haunt the country over the weekend, as Brett Kavanaugh was sworn in as the fifth hard-line conservative on the Supreme Court. In January 2009, George W. Bush left office with an abysmal 22 percent approval rating, the lowest ever recorded. Almost everyone with anything to do with his administration was considered politically toxic. With full Democratic control of the federal government, calls came for an investigation into the scandals of the Bush administration, including torture, mass surveillance, and war profiteering. While some called for criminal prosecutions, others wanted hearings or an independent investigation that would — at minimum — put into the public record the details of who did what and when. At the least, the argument went, Democrats could ensure that the GOP had to wear the Bush administration for years; that the officials involved in wrongdoing would be written out of polite society; and that future administrations would not revert to those practices.
Obama refused. Kavanaugh’s rise to the Supreme Court is the result of elite institutional failure. The judge was sworn in by Chief Justice John Roberts on Saturday evening, even as demonstrators banged on the doors of the court. ...
Three allegations of sexual assault — the first was broken by The Intercept — and and FBI investigation weren’t enough to sink Kavanaugh. Nor were indications of perjurious testimony — in part because a trove of documents relating to Kavanaugh’s time with the Bush administration that is currently being analyzed by the National Archives, including emails and memos about surveillance, torture, and Kavanaugh’s involvement with a hacking scandal, won’t be released until the end of October. ... With proper public understanding of Kavanaugh’s role in the unpopular policies of of the Bush White House, that role may have been disqualifying by itself. ...
Over the past decade, the political world has done everything possible to minimize and forget the crimes of the early to mid-2000s. The effect has been felt ever since. Members of the Bush administration and their hangers-on have spent their time working diligently to return to good standing in the social and professional worlds they once dominated in Washington and New York. Allowing them to reintegrate into elite society has had almost as catastrophic an effect on American politics as Donald Trump. ... Kavanaugh’s career should have ended at the D.C. District Court of Appeals. His new role as Supreme Court justice is what happens when democratic societies don’t hold criminals in the government accountable for their actions. At a bare minimum, everyone involved with the Bush administration’s war in Iraq and post-9/11 torture and detainee programs should have been thoroughly discredited and rejected from polite society. That they weren’t may end up being one of the defining moments in the 21st century.
Donald Trump, speaking at a triumphalist White House ceremony, has made the baseless claim that the new supreme court justice Brett Kavanaugh was “proven innocent” of allegations of sexual assault. In what he acknowledged was a break from tradition, the US president told a packed East Room on Monday: “On behalf of our nation, I want to apologize to Brett and the entire Kavanaugh family for the terrible pain and suffering you have been forced to endure. Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception.”
Trump, often criticised for rubbing salt in national wounds rather than healing them, continued: “What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency, and due process. Our country, a man or woman must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.” Clarence Thomas, who was confirmed to the court in 1991 despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, joined applause in the room. Sitting beside him, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal justice, did not. All eight sitting supreme court justices were present.
The president added: “And with that, I must state that you, sir, under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent. Thank you. You were.” He turned to shake the hand of Kavanaugh, who said, “Thank you,” as the room erupted in applause again.
The judge was found neither guilty nor innocent of allegations brought by research psychologist Dr Christine Blasey Ford that, when he was 17 and she 15 in the 1980s, Kavanaugh pinned her to a bed, groped her and tried to remove her clothes while putting his hand over her mouth to stop her screams.
The ranting, tearful Kavanaugh was not in evidence on Monday, though his air of self-assurance and self-destiny was. Early in his remarks, he praised Trump’s “deep appreciation for the vital role of the American judiciary” and thanked him for his “steadfast” and “unwavering” support. “Mr President, thank you for everything.”
During his Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, new Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh took obvious pride in getting into Yale, citing it as evidence that he didn’t have a drinking problem. “I got into Yale Law School. That’s the No. 1 law school in the country. I had no connections there. I got there by busting my tail in college.” But, as with much of his testimony, this wasn’t exactly true: Kavanaugh’s grandfather had gone to Yale University for undergrad, just as Kavanaugh later did, making him a legacy student. And admission to an undergraduate institution can more than double a student’s chance of getting into that institution’s graduate schools. Getting into college, especially Ivy League schools, is traditionally as much a matter of who you know as it is what you know.
For this and other long-recognized structural reasons, it has historically been more difficult for minority applicants to get accepted into institutions of higher learning. The remedy for this society-wide disadvantage became known as affirmative action — the idea that admissions officers would affirmatively work to consider the relative advantages of wealthier, whiter candidates against less affluent, browner candidates, in order to level the playing field. The practice of considering race in admissions processes now faces a new legal challenge, and with Kavanaugh on the bench, the Supreme Court could be poised to strike it down. The Wall Street Journal editorial page on Monday anticipated just that outcome, if Chief Justice John Roberts decides to go for it:
With the politics surrounding the Court so polarized, [Roberts] might be more cautious than warranted on issues where the Court needs to clear up its own indecision. One of those issues is the constitutionality of racial preferences, about which former Justice Anthony Kennedy continued the legal hair-splitting of Sandra Day O’Connor. Justice Kavanaugh is likely to join the other four conservatives.
That the blow would be dealt by a legacy Yale admission from Georgetown Preparatory School is perhaps as fitting as it is ironic.
Brett Kavanaugh took his seat on the supreme court on Tuesday after one of the most divisive fights in recent American history. ... On his first day in the job, all that seemed quickly to fade into silence. Kavanaugh’s elevation was briefly acknowledged by Chief Justice John Roberts, who expressed his “great pleasure” in welcoming the new man on to the court and wished him “a long and happy career”. But those remarks were immediately forgotten amid the mundane business of the court.
Lawyers stood up by the half-dozen. As they were sworn in, Kavanaugh talked quietly with Justice Elena Kagan, sitting to his right. Both laughed at the other’s remarks. ...
Although there were a handful of protesters outside the court before its session began – dressed as characters from The Handmaid’s Tale, they shouted “Believe women” – they had dispersed by the end of the first case. There were still some television cameras outside but they weren’t broadcasting. Tourists strolled around the grounds. Disruptions on sidewalk came not from partisan vitriol but passersby, riding scooters.
The political and cultural impact of the Kavanaugh fight will resonate for months if not years. But around the court, on day one, it was as if it never happened.
ACTION NEEDED: We need you to raise your voice to impeach accused sexual predator and proven perjurer #BrettKavanaugh. Make a call and ask House members to use their power to #ImpeachKavanaugh: https://t.co/1BTPikUf9q #SaveSCOTUS #KavanaughLiedUnderOath pic.twitter.com/hldczLahUh
— CREDO Mobile (@CREDOMobile) October 9, 2018
Nothing in the constitution fixes the number of supreme court seats at nine. The size of the court is set by legislation, and has varied over time. We started with six. We’ve gone as high as 10 (when Abraham Lincoln was president, and Congress worried about a reactionary supreme court invalidating his wartime measures). Only recently, Republicans held the court to eight members for a year in the wake of Antonin Scalia’s death. So, then, the next time the left has some political power, why not just expand the size of the supreme court and add another handful of justices? Make Brett Kavanaugh a gifted and energetic member of a 10-to-5 minority. Don’t get mad, in other words: get even.
This is called “court-packing”. And although it enjoys a long and distinguished history in America, anyone who suggests it today will be met – swiftly – by serious and sober realists, all of whom who are eager to explain the reasons that this cannot possibly work. Their arguments tend to take one of a few forms. First, they say, this idea is counterproductive. If the Democrats pack the courts, Republicans will retaliate by packing the courts even more when next they are in power. (“It’s time,” these people assure you, “for some game theory.”) That is, if the left expands the court’s membership to 15, then the Republicans will expand it to 17, or 19, when they are in power next. And that makes sense until you remember: didn’t the Republicans already adjust the size of the court (shrinking it to eight, by refusing to consider Judge Merrick Garland’s nomination) when they had the power to do it?
And if, in a decade, the right did further expand the court and take back control of it … how would that leave the left in any position that’s worse than now? This objection (“what if they retaliate?!”) feels, in present circumstances, a bit like worrying that if the Allies invade Normandy, the Nazis will shoot at them. It’s not wrong, exactly, but it seems bereft of some of the essential context.
Another objection is more romantic. Court-packing, some worry, would destroy the legitimacy of the supreme court as a non-partisan institution – it would say farewell to the court as a forum where neutral principles, rather than ideology, governs. Whereas the game theorists of the prior objection are mostly annoying, this objection is almost sad: what can one say to it but “Oh, honey?” ...
At bottom, though, opponents of court-packing have a burden to supply a superior alternative. The court is firmly in the grips of young conservatives who will serve for decades. What is to be done? Writing more persuasive briefs is not a hopeful strategy. Term limits don’t even begin to solve the problem. Accepting defeat is a non-starter. And so although court-packing is deservedly controversial, its skeptics on the left must nonetheless answer a question to which they have yet to supply a convincing answer:
Do you have a better idea?
If you participate in these sorts of things, here are links to two petitions to impeach the SCROTUS (Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court Rapist of the United States): Credo Action and Free Speech For People
“Keep your Marxist hands off Gritty”: WSJ writer fumes over allegations that a furry mascot is antifa
Gritty, the bright orange, furry, 7-foot creature of Philadelphian origin, is no longer a simple mascot for a hockey team: Antifa activists have co-opted him as their own. In fact, they so effectively claimed Gritty as a working-class, leftist icon that the Wall Street Journal was forced to publish an anguished op-ed Monday demanding that these people keep their “Marxist hands off Gritty.”
“The same leftists who want statues of Thomas Jefferson removed are now petitioning for Gritty to replace Mayor Frank Rizzo on a downtown mural,” Jillian Kay Melchior said in the Wall Street Journal op-ed. “Gritty belongs to Philadelphia, not to far-left activists. Still, in an era when everything from Nike and the NFL to your local restaurant is a political battlefield, this development is as predictable as it is sad,” she said. “Not only can’t we have nice things; we can’t even have silly, creepy things.”
Leftist activists immediately latched on to Gritty after the Philadelphia Flyers introduced him as their new mascot in late September. The socialist magazine Jacobin, for example, first tweeted on Sept. 26 that, “Gritty is a worker.” An anti-capitalist Gritty parody account sprouted up on Twitter on Oct. 2, and it has already amassed thousands of followers.
The Daily Beast reported last week that Gritty is an “anti-fascist now, and there’s nothing you can do about it.” But it’s more than just a joke on the internet. When Donald Trump visited Philadelphia last week, protesters showed up carrying signs that showed Gritty waving an antifa flag and wearing anarchist imagery.
Stage 1: Deny the Problem Exists
Stage 2: Deny We're the Cause
Stage 3: Deny It's a Problem
Stage 4: Deny We can Solve It
Stage 5: It's too Late
Look where the Trump Administration is.https://t.co/FRQGZ8gQ4r
— Michael Brown (@MJIBrown) September 28, 2018
To date, the Trump administration has pinballed between Stages 1, 2, and 3, calling climate change a Chinese hoax, disputing the degree of human causation (100% since 1950), and claiming it’s not a threat. But the purpose of climate science denial is to obstruct climate policies, and science denial doesn’t hold up in court. Unlike in the political realm, judicial decisions are generally based on evidence. ...
At least the Trump administration doesn’t deny basic climate science in this report, but worse yet, they’ve taken the nihilistic viewpoint that we’re screwed and nothing we do matters. Like the other stages, this is simply another form of climate denial meant to protect fossil fuel industry profits at everyone else’s peril.
Climate Scientist: As U.N. Warns of Global Catastrophe, We Need a “Marshall Plan” for Climate Change
More than 50,000 people from across Europe gathered near the Hambacher Forest in western Germany on Saturday to defend the area from the expansion of coal-fired energy and demand much more ambitious climate action. According to Greenpeace, one of the organizers behind the demonstration, the enormous crowd made up of local farmers, environmental activists, church groups, local residents and supporters from other countries, including Italy, France and the Netherlands. It was the largest-ever anti-coal demonstration in the Rhineland.
Those attending carried large banners declaring "Farmers against coal" and "We will end coal" as they assembled in a massive field and demanded that the RWE energy group be forbidden from further logging in the nearby Hambacher Forest, the largest of its kind in the region.
"This rally is about demanding that the German government break the deadlock of a climate policy that has failed to reduce carbon emissions for nearly a decade now, but it also is about showing governments everywhere that a growing climate movement is demanding an end to dirty and outdated fossil fuels," said Martin Kaiser, executive director of Greenpeace Germany. "The German coal phase-out needs to start here and now and the last coal plant needs to shut down by 2030 if we are to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement."
The mass protest comes in the wake of a legal victory in which a German court forbade RWE from carrying out a clear-cutting operation of the forest.
Intensive modern farming methods and the unravelling consequences of global climate change are said to have put the future of the common bee under threat like never before. But in Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands a group of scientists working on long-term solutions to some of the world’s thorniest problems have developed a solution that could have come straight from a sci-fi novel: robotic bees. By reproducing some of the complex wing motion patterns and aerodynamics of fruit flies, in particular, researchers in the university’s newly opened Robohouse, a hub for Dutch expertise, believe they will be able to create swarms of bee-like drones to pollinate plants when the real-life insects have died away. ...
Matěj Karásek, a researcher working on the project, said: “The use we see for this is pollination in green houses. The bee is under threat due to our farming methods and we don’t know what their future will be. This is one solution.”
The Netherlands is one of the world’s largest exporters of agricultural and food products in the world. Bees are responsible for pollinating 80% of the edible crops grown in the country. et of the 360 different species of bee in the Netherlands, about half of them are threatened. Globally, the dramatically falling numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed, in part, on the widespread use of pesticides. ...
Karásek told the Guardian: “I think within five to 10 years we will have the technology to make the drones much smaller and we could see them put to use in greenhouses.” The developers are working to find a commercial partner for the project. Delft university’s Robohouse, opened six weeks ago, has been established to bring the country’s brightest engineering minds together with the private sector.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Cow Cow Davenport - That'll Get It
Cow Cow Davenport - I'm Gonna Tell You in Front So You Won't Feel Hurt Behind
Cow Cow Davenport w/Ivy Smith - Cow Cow Blues
Cow Cow Davenport - Hurry and Bring It on Home
Cow Cow Davenport - State Street Jive
Cow Cow Davenport - Chimes Blues
Cow Cow Davenport - Alamabama Strut
Cow Cow Davenport - The Mess Is Here
Cow Cow Davenport - Texas Shout