The Evening Blues - 12-2-19



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The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Little Smokey Smothers


Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features Chicago blues guitarist Little Smokey Smothers. Enjoy!

Little Smokey Smothers - You Don't Love Me

"Every revolution evaporates and leaves behind only the slime of a new bureaucracy."

-- Franz Kafka


News and Opinion

Spanish judge to question Julian Assange over Ecuador embassy spying claims

The British justice system has finally agreed to let a Spanish judge question WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange as a witness in a case involving allegations that a Spanish security firm spied on him while he was living in the Ecuadorian embassy in London.

Judge José de la Mata of Spain’s High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, will interview the cyber-activist via video link on December 20, said judicial sources.

Assange will be transferred from Belmarsh prison in southeast London to Westminster Magistrates Court to answer questions from De la Mata, who is investigating alleged violations of client-attorney privilege between the cyber-activist and his lawyers, and allegations that these conversations were passed on to the CIA.

British civil servants visited Assange in prison last week, asked him whether he agreed to be questioned by De la Mata, and delivered a document listing the events under investigation by the judge, who had issued a European Investigation Order (EIO) in September requesting assistance from British authorities.

This list of events under investigation, which EL PAÍS has seen, notes that David Morales, owner of the Spanish security firm UC Global, SL “invaded the privacy of Assange and his lawyers by placing microphones inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London without consent from the affected parties.” It also states that the information thus collected was distributed to other people and institutions, including “authorities from Ecuador and agents from the United States.” ...

The British justice system, acting through the United Kingdom Central Authority (UKCA), the agency in charge of processing EIOs, initially blocked De la Mata’s request. ... This position created unease in judicial circles, and was viewed as resistance to an investigation that could hinder Assange’s extradition to the US. ... Several Spanish judges consulted by this newspaper said that EIO requests are generally granted on an automatic basis.

Youth-Led Protests Topple Iraqi PM as Demonstrations Calling for Overhaul of Government Continue

Iraq’s Prime Minister is Resigning After Nearly 400 Protesters Have Been Killed

Iraq’s prime minister announced Friday that he will resign after a brutal crackdown on protesters that has left nearly 400 people dead. The announcement triggered wild celebrations among protesters in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi’s resignation came just a day after more than 40 protesters were shot dead by security forces in Baghdad and the southern cities of Najaf and Nasiriyah on Thursday.

Hours before his announcement, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, who is one of the country’s most powerful and influential leaders, used his weekly sermon to condemn the use of lethal force against protesters, telling parliament to reconsider its support for the prime minister. In a statement announcing his resignation, Abdul-Mahdi said he had “listened with great concern” to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani’s call and was stepping down in order to “facilitate and hasten its fulfillment as soon as possible.” ...

Iraq has been rocked by mass anti-government protests since Oct. 1, when thousands of young Iraqis took to the streets of the capital. The protesters have accused the government and the ruling class of using the country’s vast oil riches to line their own pockets. They are also calling for an overhaul of the political system, demanding that rulers address issues like high unemployment and broken utilities like electricity and clean water.

Iraq risks breakup as tribes take on Iran’s militias in ‘blood feud’

Iraq’s parliament will today begin the process of electing a new leader after the prime minister, Adel Abdul-Mahdi, resigned last week. His successor will have to cope with the severe unrest that is spreading across the country and which has pitched security forces against demonstrators for nearly two months. Fears are mounting that the country could unravel altogether. ...

At stake now is whether the post-Saddam Iraq constructed by the US remains viable 16 years after the invasion that overturned the country’s regime and reset the balance of power in the region.

“When the Americans left in 2011, we thought that at least some structures had been left behind,” said Bassma Qadhimi, a doctor in Baghdad. “Then they started stealing more than ever before and everyone looked away. There were a few elections where it wasn’t important if you were a Shia, a Sunni or a Christian. It looked good. Then it unravelled, because every sect stole. But if there’s anything to come from the protests so far, it’s that not sect, but nationality, is leading it.” ...

Iran – which also has a majority Shia population – has played a prominent role in the affairs of Iraq throughout the post-invasion years, and especially since the US withdrew its forces in 2011. The Iranian general Qassem Suleimani has been a central figure in the crackdown, directing a lethal response that started roughly a month ago. At the same time Iran is facing pressure on the home front and an uprising in Lebanon, where the most important arm of its foreign projection, Hezbollah, plays a vital role in the fragile country’s affairs. ...

“In Lebanon and in Iraq, they are on a war footing,” said a regional official familiar with Iranian thinking. ... Tribal leaders in Dhi Qar province have demanded that security forces and militia leaders responsible for the killings in Nasiriyah be held accountable. The stance adds a new layer of complexity to a standoff, which now looms as the most serious Iran has faced in the post-Saddam Middle East. “They are convinced the Americans are behind this,” said the official. “I have never seen them as rattled as they are now.” ...

The Iraqi parliament has 15 days to nominate a new prime minister, but in the past new leaders have only been named after months of horse trading. Failure to reach a cross-factional consensus could plunge Iraq into an abyss.

Failure to end civil war in Yemen now could cost $29bn

A failure to capture the present rare chance for peace in Yemen may potentially cost the international community $29bn (£22bn) in further humanitarian aid if the current civil war continues for another five years, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) warns on Monday in a new report. It is also likely to prolong Yemen’s inability to return to pre-crisis levels of hunger by 20 years just as famine conditions are improving.

The warnings are partly directed at Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, who are leading the fight against Houthi rebels as well as funding the bulk of humanitarian aid mainly going to UN agencies such as the World Food Programme (WFP).

David Miliband, president of the IRC and former foreign secretary, said: “Today’s grim predictions are an insight into the colossal cost of the age of impunity: where wars are fought with a complete disregard for civilian life and neglected by diplomats charged with ending the violence and holding perpetrators of international law to account.

“What’s more, the war in Yemen has been prolonged by active military support and diplomatic cover from the US, UK, and other western powers. ...

The report claims there are signs of diplomatic hope in Yemen for the first time since the Saudi intervention five years ago, including localised ceasefire proposals, prisoner releases and belated progress in implementing the December 2018 deal that brought warring parties together for the first time in two years.

Abby Martin: Gaza's fight for freedom needs global solidarity

Reversing Pro-Palestinian Stance of Evo Morales, Bolivia's Coup Government Moves to Restore Ties With Israel

The right-wing coup regime in Bolivia announced plans Thursday to restore diplomatic relations with Israel, reversing ousted former President Evo Morales' 2009 decision to cut off ties with the country over its weeks-long assault on the occupied Gaza Strip that killed over a thousand Palestinians.

Speaking to the media Thursday, Bolivian Foreign Minister Karen Longaric expressed hope that reestablishing ties with Israel will "lead to positive aspects for both sides and contribute to Bolivian tourism."

Israel's foreign ministry celebrated the foreign minister's announcement in a statement.

"The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has actively worked for a long period of time to promote the renewal of the relationship, also with the help of the Brazilian president [Jair Bolsonaro] and minister of foreign affairs, with whom I recently spoke on the subject at the U.N. Conference in New York," said Israeli foreign minister Israel Katz. "The departure of President Morales, who was hostile to Israel, and his replacement by a government friendly to Israel, allows the fruition of the process." ...

The Añez government's decision to restore ties with Israel represents another major break from the foreign policy of Morales, who formally recognized Palestine as an independent state in 2010 and called on the International Criminal Court to charge top Israeli officials with genocide over the 2009 assault on Gaza, known as Operation Cast Lead.

Trump's military meddling fuels growing tension with leadership

On Thursday night, a besuited Donald Trump appeared at a US airbase in Afghanistan, serving Thanksgiving turkey to the troops, complaining half-jokingly about the length of his surprise trip, and drawing attention to all the money he had spent on the military. ...

Over the past few months, Trump has embraced his role as commander-in-chief, announcing unheralded military movements in and out of Syria and intervening repeatedly in the military justice system to absolve service soldiers accused of war crimes. The US military – or its leadership at least – is hardly reveling in the president’s attention. A spate of reports cite former commanders and unnamed active duty senior officers complaining about the undermining of the chain of command and the corrosion of the integrity of an institution most Americans have seen as a pillar of the republic – an incorruptible and disciplined armed forces.

CNN reported “at least two senior military officers” had been reluctant to appear alongside Trump at recent official events, out of fear of he would come out with partisan remarks. Richard Spencer, the secretary of the navy fired last week after clashing with the president over war crimes cases, wrote in the Washington Post that it was “a reminder that the president has very little understanding of what it means to be in the military, to fight ethically or to be governed by a uniform set of rules and practices”.

It is a far cry from the early days of Trump’s presidency, when he surrounded himself with military brass and boasted about “his generals”. One by one those grand martial figures have left the administration, to be lampooned by their commander-in-chief on their way out the door as “failed generals” who were “not tough enough” and “overrated”. More senior officers are reported to be considering resignation, if the president continues to meddle in what they see as the preserve of the military. ...

Trump is fond of talking about “my military”, but the claim is less true with every passing month. Veterans still support him in significantly greater numbers than the general population, but he no longer has a lead among active duty service members, who are fairly evenly split between approval and disapproval.

Worth a full read, the details are Kafkaesque.

Trump Is First to Use PATRIOT Act to Detain a Man Forever

For the 18-year lifespan of the war on terrorism, an obscure provision of the PATRIOT Act permitting the indefinite detention of non-citizens on U.S. soil has gone unused. But to keep a Palestinian man behind bars even after he finished serving his sentence, the Trump administration has fired this bureaucratic Chekhov’s gun.

Adham Amin Hassoun, now in his late 50s, has spent nearly the entire war on terrorism in cages. First picked up on an immigration violation in June 2002, he ended up standing trial alongside once-suspected “dirty bomber” Jose Padilla. But Hassoun was never accused of any act or plot of violence. His crime was cutting checks to extremist-tied Muslim charities operating in places like Kosovo and Chechnya that Congress outlawed after the 9/11 attacks. Hassoun wrote all but one of those checks before 9/11.

Sentenced to 15 years in federal prison, Hassoun should have been a free man in 2017. Instead, he found himself in the custody of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which locked him up in western New York. It was there that Hassoun’s case turned extraordinary.

ICE wanted to deport Hassoun, but his statelessness as a Palestinian got in the way. No country—not the Lebanon of his birth, not the Israel that occupies the West Bank and Gaza—was willing to take him. Aided by attorneys at the University of Buffalo Law School, Hassoun in January won what should have been his freedom, on the grounds that his deportation was unlikely.

The Trump administration instead declared him a threat to national security. It did so at first using an also-obscure immigration regulation designed to sidestep a 2001 Supreme Court ruling imposing a six-month detention limit. And it was aided by a testimonial, under seal, of Hassoun’s alleged misdeeds behind bars as related by what his attorneys describe as jailhouse snitches who provided second- or third-hand accounts. But as the government fought what had become a habeas corpus case for Hassoun’s release, the Department of Homeland Security invoked, for the first time in U.S. government history, section 412 of the PATRIOT Act.

Section 412 gives the government broad powers to detain non-citizens on American soil whom it can’t deport but deems, on “reasonable grounds,” to be engaged in “activity that endangers the national security of the United States.” It makes that determination for a six-month period that it can renew without limit. To little fanfare, the former acting secretary of Homeland Security, Kevin McAleenan, informed Hassoun on Aug. 9 that “you will therefore remain in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) pending your removal from the United States or reconsideration of this decision.”

Merkel government in peril as leftwing duo take charge of SPD

The future of Angela Merkel’s government is in doubt after the election by her junior coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), of a new leftwing leadership duo who have pledged to renegotiate the terms of the alliance. Norbert Walter-Borjans and Saskia Esken, from the left of the SPD, have called for major policy concessions from Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), and say they are prepared to pull the plug on the partnership.

Germany is facing the prospect of months of political uncertainty with the collapse of the coalition, which has been fragile since its inception after the 2017 election, a growing likelihood. It also raises the prospect that Merkel, who has said she will not run for another term in office, will face an earlier exit from the political stage than she intended.

Walter-Borjans and Esken narrowly secured first place in the SPD leadership vote on Saturday on 53%, beating the expected winners Olaf Scholz, the finance minister and vice-chancellor, and Klara Geywitz by eight points in a second-round runoff. The result, delivered on a 54% turnout of the 425,000 SPD members, was a blow to Scholz, one of the architects of the grand coalition, and is widely seen as a vote of no confidence in him.

The immediate focus is now on Scholz. If he decides he has to resign from his ministerial roles as a result of the defeat, the coalition would in effect be over, even if an election would not happen until well into next year. The uncertainty reflects the tensions at the heart of German politics, following ever stronger challenges to the mainstream parties from the far-right Alternative für Deutschland, the leftwing Die Linke and the Greens. ...

It is the first time the party will have two people at the helm, with the new leaders, who are due to be sworn in at the SPD’s headquarters next Friday, saying they will only consider continuing to support the government if major concessions are made by the CDU. Among their main demands are an increase in the minimum wage from €9 an hour to €12 and a backtrack on the government’s central fiscal policy of balancing the federal budget, known as the “schwarze Null” or the “black zero”, to allow for more spending on infrastructure and welfare programmes. They are also calling for a more radical approach on the climate emergency.

French Activists Are Dumping Old Fridges on the Road to Stop Amazon From Making Deliveries

Activists across France tried to hamstring Amazon on Black Friday in a protest against the online retail giant and its environmental footprint. Dozens congregated outside Amazon’s French headquarters in Clichy, while other protesters attempted to block a shopping center in Paris and a logistics center in Lyon, the BBC reported.

The French anti-Amazon protests began on Thursday, when activists reportedly formed a human chain and dumped old fridges on the road to block traffic outside a company depot. The demonstrations continued Friday, with protests popping up across the country. Activists have done their best to hamper Amazon and slow down consumerism on Black Friday in general. ...

Protesters have done their best to block the distribution centers and shopping areas. "Work, consume and shut up, that is the message given to our youth," demonstrators shouted at shoppers at a Paris shopping center, according to Reuters.

Activists have accused Amazon, which has a massive delivery system, of helping to accelerate climate change. The company does have a massive carbon footprint — it emitted 44.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide last year, which is as much as a small country — but has pledged to go net carbon neutral by 2040.

Tariq Ali on U.K. Elections, Corbyn’s “Radical Social-Democratic Program” & Rise of Extreme Right

Boris Johnson Was Replaced With an Ice Sculpture During a TV Climate Debate. Now He's Threatening the Channel's License.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was due to appear at a leaders’ debate about climate change on Channel 4 on Thursday evening. When he refused to appear, to the broadcaster put an ice sculpture in his place. Now, Johnson’s government is threatening to withdraw Channel 4's license — a move critics say is an attempt to intimidate a major broadcaster at a critical moment in U.K. politics.

The debate, entitled Emergency On Planet Earth, saw party leaders face questions about how they will tackle climate change. When Johnson didn’t appear, rather than “empty chair” him, the broadcaster replaced him with an ice sculpture with the word “Conservatives” on it. There was a second ice sculpture on display to represent Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, who also refused to attend. Both sculptures were seen melting throughout the debate. ...

Before the debate, Johnson’s director of communications wrote to the media regulator Ofcom claiming the broadcaster was engaging in a “provocative partisan stunt” and showing “a pattern of bias.” He suggested it should block the broadcast. At the same time, a party source told BuzzFeed that the government could “review Channel 4’s Public Services Broadcasting obligations” if it wins next month's snap election, which would be a first for a U.K. government.


Will impeachment doom 2020 Dems

Legal storm clouds gather over Rudy Giuliani, America's tarnished mayor

When the former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani emerged as one of Donald Trump’s most bareknuckle defenders during the Russia investigation, attacking his former colleagues in the justice department, people asked: “What happened to Rudy?” Now, as federal prosecutors tighten a net of criminal investigations around Giuliani, the question has become: “What is going to happen to Rudy?” The poignancy of Giuliani’s downfall from national hero and presidential candidate to the subject of multiple federal criminal investigations has been often remarked in the past year.

The net tightened again last week when it emerged a grand jury had issued a broad subpoena for documents relating to Giuliani’s international consulting business as part of an investigation of alleged crimes including money laundering, wire fraud, campaign finance violations, making false statements, obstruction of justice, and violations of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. ...

Giuliani has denied wrongdoing and scoffed at the notion he is in any legal jeopardy – particularly from federal prosecutors in the southern district of New York, an office he once led as a star US attorney during Ronald Reagan’s first term. There Giuliani built a reputation for taking on mob bosses and aggressively prosecuting the kind of criminal activity he now stands accused of.

“Me ending up in jail?” Giuliani told the celebrity gossip site TMZ at a Washington airport on Monday. “Fifty years of being a lawyer, 50 years of ethical, dedicated practice of the law, probably have prosecuted more criminals of a high level than any US attorney in history. I think I follow the law very carefully. I think the people pursuing me are desperate, sad, angry, disappointing liars. They’re hurting their country. And I’m ashamed of them.”

But in no version of events does Giuliani appear not to be in big trouble.

As the pressure on him has intensified, Giuliani’s antics in his own defense have grown increasingly animated. He warned last week that he had collected information that would put his political enemies on their heels. “I’m also going to bring out a pay-for-play scheme in the Obama administration that will be devastating to the Democrat party,” Giuliani told Fox News. He even threatened to start an impeachment podcast.

Magical thinking strikes a state government between the ears:

Ohio bill orders doctors to ‘reimplant ectopic pregnancy’ or face 'abortion murder' charges

A bill to ban abortion introduced in the Ohio state legislature requires doctors to “reimplant an ectopic pregnancy” into a woman’s uterus – a procedure that does not exist in medical science – or face charges of “abortion murder”.

This is the second time practising obstetricians and gynecologists have tried to tell the Ohio legislators that the idea is currently medically impossible.

The move comes amid a wave of increasingly severe anti-abortion bills introduced across much of the country as conservative Republican politicians seek to ban abortion and force a legal showdown on abortion with the supreme court. ...


An ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition, which can kill a woman if the embryonic tissue grows unchecked.

In addition to ordering doctors to do the impossible or face criminal charges, House Bill 413 bans abortion outright and defines a fertilized egg as an “unborn child”.

It also appears to punish doctors, women and children as young as 13 with “abortion murder” if they “perform or have an abortion”. This crime is punishable by life in prison. Another new crime, “aggravated abortion murder”, is punishable by death, according to the bill.

Republican City Opens Gov. Run Grocery Store

Millions could lose access to food stamps under Trump proposal, study finds

Millions of Americans face losing access to food assistance under proposed rule changes by the Trump administration, a new analysis has found.

The changes, if they had been instituted last year, would have resulted in 3.7 million fewer people and 2.1m fewer households receiving the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, known as Snap or food stamps, during an average month, according to the study.

The altered rules would also reduce benefits received by many people, with 2.2m households set to have their average monthly assistance cut by $127. Nearly one million students would lose access to free or discounted lunches.

The analysis, by the not-for-profit Urban Institute, said that three planned changes to Snap would “significantly alter” food-based help provided to poor Americans, with disparities across the country in terms of impact. Benefits would be cut in most states, although states including Vermont, New York, Nevada and Connecticut would fare particularly badly.

America is not the land of the free but one of monopolies so predatory they imperil the nation

Britain is about to decouple itself from a continental economy beginning to get things right, and hook up with one that is palpably beginning to fail. ... Britain is about to make a vast mistake. In the recently published The Great Reversal, leading economist Thomas Philippon of New York University and member of the advisory panel of the New York Federal Reserve, mounts a devastating attack on the conventional wisdom, so perfectly embodied by the witless Boris Johnson. The news is that over the last 20 years per capita EU incomes have grown by 25% while the US’s have grown 21%, with the US growth rate decelerating while Europe’s has held steady – indeed accelerating in parts of Europe. What is going on?

Philippon’s answer is simple. The US economy is becoming increasingly harmed by ever less competition, with fewer and fewer companies dominating sector after sector – from airlines to mobile phones. Market power is the most important concept in economics, he says. When firms dominate a sector, they invest and innovate less, they peg or raise prices, and they make super-normal profits by just existing (what economists call “economic rent”). So it is that mobile phone bills in the US are on average $100 a month, twice that of France and Germany, with the same story in broadband. Profits per passenger airline mile in the US are twice those in Europe. US healthcare is impossibly expensive, with drug companies fixing prices twice as high or even higher than those in Europe; health spending is 18% of GDP. Google, Amazon and Facebook have been allowed to become supermonopolies, buying up smaller challengers with no obstruction.

This monopolising process gums up everything. Investment in the US has been falling for 20 years. Because prices stay high, wages buy less, so workers’ lifestyles, unless they borrow, get squeezed in real terms while those at the top get paid ever more with impunity. Inequality escalates to unsupportable levels. Even life expectancy is now falling across the US.

But why has this happened now? Philippon has a deadly answer. A US political campaign costs 50 times more than one in Europe in terms of money spent for every vote cast. But this doesn’t just distort the political process. It is the chief cause of the US economic crisis. Corporations want a return on their money, and the payback is protection from any kind of regulation, investigation or anti-monopoly policy that might strike at their ever-growing market power. ... Philippon shows this is systemic; how both at federal and state level ever higher campaign donations are correlated with ever fewer actions against monopoly, price fixing and bad corporate behaviour. ...

The EU’s regulations are better thought out, so in industry after industry it is becoming the global standard setter. Its corporate governance structures are better. And last week, to complete the picture, Christine Lagarde, the incoming president of the European Central Bank, in the most important pronouncement of the year, said the environment would be at the heart of European monetary policy. In other words, the ECB is to underwrite a multitrillion-euro green revolution. In short – bet on Europe not the US.



the horse race



Chris Mathews Slams Bernie For Fighting “Corruption”


The Democrats Have a Big Decision to Make About Mike Bloomberg

Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren seem to be having fun clowning billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg lately. The question is whether they’ll get the chance to say it to his face. Bloomberg’s pledge not to accept any donations for his late-entry bid for the Democratic presidential nomination means that, as the rules currently stand, he will never be on a debate stage opposite his progressive nemeses.

The Democratic National Committee requires a candidate to have a certain number of donations to qualify (200,000 unique donors for the December debate, for instance). So unless the DNC changes its debate qualification rules, the entirely self-funding Bloomberg would not make the cut. ...

DNC Chairman Tom Perez was asked about whether they would relax the rules to accommodate Bloomberg last week and did not seem to rule it out — not necessarily because of Bloomberg, but because by early next year voters will be casting ballots and so they may revisit the thresholds.

“We haven't set the rules for after the first of the year, and that's something that we're doing right now and we always set the rules early enough so that we can give notice to the campaigns,” Perez said. “Right now, zero votes have been cast. And so the voters haven't spoken. What should the rules be once the voters have spoken and we have some actual data from states? That's the question that we are considering."


Will the race narrow to Joe Biden vs Bernie Sanders?

Biden launches eight-day 'no malarkey' bus tour amid flagging poll numbers

Joe Biden has embarked upon an eight-day ‘No Malarkey’ barnstorm bus tour across Iowa as the former US vice-president attempts to arrest his flagging poll numbers in the key state, which is the first to vote in the race to be the Democratic 2020 presidential nominee.

Biden started his election blitz on Saturday, telling supporters in a fundraising email that he was undertaking an “eight-day, 18 county, ‘No Malarkey’ barnstorm” across Iowa. “The plan is to meet as many caucus-goers as I can, and we’re going to cover a lot of ground to do it,” the email read. On Sunday, the former vice president was due to attend a meet and greet in Carroll, a town hall in Storm Lake, meet and greets in Jefferson and Perry, and a town hall in Spencer.

The bus tour follows recent polling that shows Biden’s standing has slipped among Democratic voters in Iowa who, on 3 February, will be the first caucus in the US to pick a favored candidate to take on Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

After topping the Democratic field in the state in several polls as recently as September, the 77-year-old has seemingly been eclipsed by Pete Buttigieg in recent surveys of Iowan Democrats. Still, the polls show a tight race and Biden’s supporters deny that his campaign is in any sort of trouble, especially as he still frequently leads the Democratic field in national polls.

Elizabeth Warren Freezes When Confronted By Protesters

Krystal Ball: Is Kamala Harris on the verge of dropping out?

Progressives Condemn 'Nonsensical and Dishonest' Pete Buttigieg Ad Attacking Free Public College

The Democratic presidential campaign of South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg on Thursday launched a new ad in Iowa attacking the idea of tuition-free public college, sparking backlash from progressives who called Buttigieg's argument against the proposal "disingenuous" and reactionary.

"I believe we should move to make college affordable for everybody. There are some voices saying, 'Well that doesn't count unless you go even further, unless it's free even for the kids of millionaires,'" Buttigieg says in the 30-second spot, a clear shot at Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), who are both campaigning on making public colleges and universities tuition-free.

"But I only want to make promises that we can keep," Buttigieg says in the ad, which aired Thursday evening in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. "Look, what I'm proposing is plenty bold. I mean these are big ideas. We can gather the majority to drive those big ideas through without turning off half the country before we even get into office."


Unlike Sanders and Warren's plans, which would make public colleges and universities tuition-free for all, Buttigieg's proposal (pdf) would make public college education tuition-free only for households earning up to $100,000 per year.


Progressives were quick to respond that Buttigieg's argument against tuition-free public college and in favor of means-testing could just as easily apply to other publicly funded goods and programs like K-12 education, Social Security, Medicare, and libraries. "This logic leads directly to President Pete agreeing to further Medicare and Social Security means testing in order to keep taxes low," said Crooked Media's Brian Beutler.

Yang stuns with massive fundraising haul as establishment Dems drop out



the evening greens

COP25: Island states want 'decisive' climate action to prevent inundation

The countries most at risk of deluge from climate chaos have issued an impassioned plea to the industrialised world ahead of crucial negotiations on the Paris agreement that start on Monday in Madrid. “We see [these talks] as the last opportunity to take decisive action,” Janine Felson, deputy chair of the Alliance of Small Island States (AOSIS) told the Guardian.

“Anything short of vastly greater commitment to emission reduction, a new climate finance goal and tangible support for disaster risk reduction will signal a willingness to accept catastrophe.”

Pacific atolls and other low-lying islands are likely to be inundated if temperatures rise to more than 1.5C above preindustrial levels, while current Paris commitments put the world on track for a “disastrous” 3C.

“We are mired in a planetary emergency of existential proportion,” said the leaders of the 44 states of AOSIS, in a joint statement. “The impacts are real and current for people living on small islands. This does not have to be our destiny or legacy.” ...

The US last month formally submitted the one year’s notice legally required for withdrawal under the accord. The withdrawal will formally take effect the day after the next US presidential election, and just before the next UN talks in November 2020, to be hosted by the UK in Glasgow. A US State Department spokesperson told the Guardian: “The US delegation at COP25 will actively engage in negotiations to protect US interests and level the playing field for US businesses.”

Debate blazes in Australia over climate change link to bushfires

Decrying 'Utterly Inadequate' Efforts to Tackle Climate Crisis, UN Chief Declares 'Our War Against Nature Must Stop'

On the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres decried the "utterly inadequate" efforts of governments to curb planet-heating emissions and called for "a clear demonstration of increased ambition and commitment" from world leaders to tackle the crisis.

"For many decades the human species has been at war with the planet. And the planet is fighting back," Guterres told reporters in Madrid Sunday. "We are confronted now with a global climate crisis. The point of no return is no longer over the horizon. It is in sight and hurtling towards us."

"Our war against nature must stop," he declared. "And we know that that is possible. The scientific community has provided us with the roadmap to achieve this." ...

Governments across the globe face growing pressure from the public—particularly young people—to step up their climate action to meet the level of the crisis, noted Guterres, whose remarks to reporters Sunday came just two days after a youth-led worldwide climate strike that aimed to push COP 25 attendees to pursue more ambitious policies.

"What is still lacking is political will," Guterres said. "Political will to put a price on carbon. Political will to stop subsidies on fossil fuels. Political will to stop building coal power plants from 2020 onwards. Political will to shift taxation from income to carbon—taxing pollution instead of people. We simply have to stop digging and drilling and take advantage of the vast possibilities offered by renewable energy and nature-based solutions."

Although Guterres didn't criticize any nations or leaders by name—including U.S. President Donald Trump, who began formally withdrawing the United States from the Paris accord last month—the secretary-general chided the world's largest emitters for "not pulling their weight" and warned that "without them, our goal is unreachable."

In French Guiana, gold mining accused of role in destroying Amazon rainforest

Thousands of Activists Stage Protests at Three German Coal Mines to Demand Bolder Climate Policies

On the heels of Friday's global youth-led climate strike, thousands of activists staged demonstrations at three coal mines in Germany Saturday to protest the government's plan to phase out coal by 2038, which activists say isn't soon enough.

The German news agency dpa reported that "protesters ran into the Jänschwalde and Welzow-Süd open-cast mining sites in the eastern state of Brandenburg, as well as the United Schleenhain lignite mining area in neighboring Saxony."

Ende Gelände (End of the Road), which helped organize the protests, said there were about 4,000 demonstrators total, while some reporting put the number closer to 2,000.

"We're at a critical moment—the window of opportunity to stop the climate crisis is closing rapidly," Ende Gelände spokesman Johnny Parks told German broadcaster DW.

The power plant at Jänschwalde has been deemed one of the top polluting facilities in Europe in terms of planet-warming emissions. Parks said that "we want to show with our protest today that this mine needs to be shut down permanently."


Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

John Pilger: Visiting Britain’s Political Prisoner

‘Psychologically Tortured’ Assange Victim of British ‘Rogue State’, London Conference Hears

Technocracy now: The US is working to turn Lebanon’s anti-corruption protests against Hezbollah

Understand The OPCW Scandal In Seven Minutes

Cameroonian Asylum-Seekers at the Border Are Fleeing a U.S.-Backed Military Force

Microsoft Funds Facial Recognition Technology Secretly Tested on Palestinians

U.S.-based chip-tech group moving to Switzerland over trade curb fears

Fingerprint Analysis Is High-Stakes Work — but It Doesn’t Take Much to Qualify as an Expert

EU antitrust regulators say they are investigating Google's data collection

Back to Jim Crow Under Trump: 'Lynch Her' Is Republicans' Big Idea to Deal With Rep. Ilhan Omar

Supreme Ambition review: Trump, Kavanaugh and the right's big coup

Oil and Gas Industry Rebukes Fracking Ban Talk as UN Shows Just How Much Fossil Fuel Plans Are Screwing Climate Limits

Saagar Enjeti: Bernie's unexpected NYT endorsement

David Dayen: Barack Obama's passive-aggressive attacks on the left

How Deval Patrick hurt black homeowners


A Little Night Music

Little Smokey Smothers + Elvin Bishop - Roll Your Moneymaker

Smokey Smothers - I Got My Eyes On You

Little Smokey Smothers - 43rd Street Blues

Little Smokey Smothers - I Need Love So Bad

Little Smokey Smothers - Remembering

Little Smokey Smothers - I Ain't Gonna Be Your Monkey Man

Little Smokey Smothers - Days Are Dark

Little Smokey Smothers - Don't Throw Your Love On Me So Strong

Little Smokey Smothers - Why Are You So Mean To Me

Little Smokey Smothers - In The Zone

Little Smokey Smothers - I Wanna Be With You


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Comments

Shahryar's picture

either sleazy, lying MF-er or not as smart as he thinks he is.

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/pete-buttigieg-south-bend-schools-segrega...

I'm going with sleazy, lying MF-er

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21 users have voted.

@Shahryar the day can't come soon enough

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13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Le Frog

i can't see him dropping out before super tuesday, and if his money holds out, he could be around for a while. it's in the establishment's interest to keep enough candidates in the pool to create the conditions for a brokered convention. mayo pete may see a path to a veep position with biden if he can wrangle enough delegates.

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14 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Shahryar

that, "i was slow to realize that the south bend schools were segregated," excuse is pretty cheezy.

he really reminds me a lot of obama.

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18 users have voted.
ggersh's picture

@Shahryar @Shahryar EDIT: Sorry I didn't have my coffee yet
before asking

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1 user has voted.

trump will be amerika's last president

What if the impeachment of tRumpolini is meant
to destroy the D party, makes sense doesn't it?

elections = tptb excuse for sayin ameriKa is a
democracy

Reg Warren, I have to wonder if she froze so as not to look condescending by responding emotionally &too quickly. IIRC, Sanders had to control himself when BLM activists took over the mic during a 2016 campaign event. HRC could get away with being rude & condescending as she was the front-runner and perceived as a "safe choice" during 2016. But IMHO, it is a minefield in our white supremacist society. By the way, I am NOT speaking for Black people.

I have been participating in a Native American(& Friends) book group for the past few months.They have been very nice & welcoming. But as a settler on stolen lands, I need to tread carefully and be more mindful when among them to be worthy of the goodwill. I have read about Black & Native Americans complaining about White people dominating the spaces. I am somewhere in between in the racial hierarchy and could be in either role depending on the context. This book is a good learning experience for me - it is much more than the book discussions, which by themselves are very interesting.

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13 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@Funkygal
The BLM activists were rude to Bernie in July of 2015, at Netroots Nation, in Phoenix.
He was irritated, as anyone would be.

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11 users have voted.

@Azazello Except Black people, all of us are occupying stolen Native American lands. Doesn't matter how long ago it happened.

Reg Sanders in 2016 election season, I think he was oblivious to race - and thought that providing jobs, healthcare, education etc will make racism go away. Nope. It won't make the wealth gap go away for example. And one of the examples BLM activists stressed was that of Sandra Bland - she had a job but that didn't prevent her from getting shot. Same with the Harvard professor confronted by police outside of his own house and even Obama himself.

We can support Sanders while also acknowledging gaps in his world view. I learnt that Eugene Debs had the same issue. And it is perfectly OK for activists to annoy politicians & the powerful. Respectability politics doesn't work. Whether or not to embrace it is a choice only the oppressed people can decide for themselves. Like the immigrant right activists who confronted Obama during a townhall etc

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9 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@Funkygal
Did the tribes make a special dispensation for them ?
How about when the Lakota pushed the Comanches south off the northern plains ?
Were the Lakota occupying stolen land ?
It's easy to imagine that, before the arrival of the white man, the tribes were all living in harmony with settled national borders. This was not the case.
Who owns the land ?
Whoever can occupy it and successfully defend their claims against other claimants.
It was ever thus, all over the world.
Don't look for heroes and villains in history and don't take on any more guilt than you really deserve.

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8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

"guilt" as in some sense of a wrong i have done does not apply. however, i certainly recognize that my life of relative comfort has come at the expense of horrible wrongs done to others - among them natives and people brought here in bondage.

the scale of the crimes and wrongdoing against these people is far greater than any individual could possibly make right on their own. i certainly can't independently mitigate the wrongs.

my own sense is that the appropriate thing is to be willing to engage with the rest of society in the process of attempting to make things right as best as can be done and to attempt to free ones self of prejudices and attachments that stand in the way of justice.

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@Azazello

Regardless of whether or not Native Americans lived peacefully, in harmony with nature, US is a settler colonial state, period. Using negative aspects of Native Americans to whitewash settler colonialism is not that different from the imperialist rhetoric used to justify invasions since time immemorial.

Not to overlook the multiple cases of infighting among tribes as they were forced to fight for shrinking areas of land due to ever growing encroachment by the occupiers. Divide and Conuer is a favorite tactic for olonialists.

That said, they have tons to teach us. Socialism worked for centuries - Indigenous socialism(s) that is. And ultimately it will be indigenous ways of life (incl indigenous peoples all over the world) which is going to save us all from climate catastrophe.

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Lily O Lady's picture

@Funkygal

Sandra Bland. She was not shot. Instead she was arrested on a pretext and died in custody where she had no business being in the first place. Her arrest was an outrage. Her death was/is an injustice, but it was not a shooting. You can check it out on Wikipedia, The Death of Sandra Bland. I’d post a link if I were any good at that sort of thing.

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6 users have voted.

"The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

@Lily O Lady
like Epstein. Uh huh! uh huh!
Strange that someone would hang themselves over a misdemeanor pot offense, even in Texas, isn't it?
On the other hand, mouthing off to a white cop can be a capital offense in Chicago, so I imagine even more so in Texas.

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0 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

snoopydawg's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

She got pulled over for allegedly not coming to a complete stop and then for not signaling when a cop rode up on her and she moved over to get out of his way. She was arrested because he went outside all regulations after she dared sticking up for herself.

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4 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg
allegedly saw a joint in her ashtray.
There could have been multiple charges.
Even more unbelievable that someone would hang themselves over a minor misdemeanor like "failing to obey a police order". Does that even have jail time? Or just a fine?

OTOH, a few years ago I was one of 55 potential jurors called to Criminal Court in Cook County at 26th & California (Chicago south side), for a felony case in which one defendant was charged with "felony verbal abuse of an officer". I thought,"Felony for swearing at a cop? No way will I ever vote to convict on felony verbal abuse." Luckily I wasn't chosen so I didn't have to engage in jury nullification. Ironically, I think it was the dimwit public defender that rejected me.
1. Wears a crew cut and military shoes. (They are good for the feet)
2. Works for a "large government agency", per the judge. (True, the US Postal Service)
3. Lives in a remote Northwest suburb. (True, the county border is a half mile from my house, and there are a lot of Republicans there.)
OMIGOD! He's a law & order type and will crucify my client! (Somewhat true on the first but totally false on the second. Actually I liked this hard Spanish woman who glared defiance at her captors and I wish the cops had just let these two losers get high which appeared to be all they wanted. Her boyfriend looked as defeated as a whipped dog, but not his lady! I wasn't about to give her or anyone else a felony record for swearing at a cop.) Public defender was a real horse's ass, insulting potential jurors (not me) and angering the judge multiple times during the voir dire. I'm no lawyer but pissing off the judge and jurors seems like a dumb way to defend a client. Both defendants, the public defender, the ADA and ten of the twelve cops had Spanish names. Judge was a white lady named O'somethingorother with an Irish face. Not at all unusual in Chicago.

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0 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

snoopydawg's picture

@The Voice In the Wilderness

and the cop told her to put it out and that's when things went to hell for her. She told him that she was in her own car and did not have to put it out. He then got bent out of shape because she didn't just cow tow to him and that was when he ordered her out of the car. From my recollection he went up to her with a big chip on his shoulder and instigated the whole thing. She didn't have money for bail and that was why she was still in jail. Whether she actually hung herself is another matter.

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3 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@snoopydawg
I'm not sating it's true. I'm saying that's what the cop claimed.
I'm certainly not naive enough to believe everything a cop claims.

And I never heard of anyone being jailed on a charge of refusing to put out a cigarette. Obviously they had to come up with a more substantial charge.

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0 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

@Lily O Lady targeted. Having a job didn't save her, That was the example BLM people pointed out to Sanders.

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@Funkygal
So Sanders shouldn't talk about Social Security.

I'm still pissed off about Only Black Lives Matter.
Told me that professional black activists are anti-Social security so they are my enemies.

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0 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

joe shikspack's picture

@Funkygal

i think that warren froze, like a lot of people who are not professional politicians or people who are accustomed to working crowds would have. it's clearly a skill that warren doesn't have. it's not necessarily a skill that is absolutely required for governing, but it sure comes in handy when motivating the public to put you in a position to govern.

i am not a huge warren fan, but it was sad to see warren get punked by a bunch of billionaires.

obviously i can't know what was going through warren's mind or whether the race of the protesters made a difference in her reaction. my impression though is that it wasn't a matter of not wanting to look condescending, it seemed to me like she didn't want to look like anything at all and if she could have turned invisible in front of the cameras she would have. i think that she genuinely couldn't respond. my $.02.

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15 users have voted.

@joe shikspack I should have clarified more - progressives and even socialists have a blinkered view of race. As was the case with Sanders - he is not racist but didn't have a broad view of how it affects people - social capital etc. After confronted by BLM people, he did start talking about systemic racism more. As you said, we wont' know why Warren did that but just added my 2 cents.

Hope PoC in team Sanders help him broaden his analysis and do good outreach esp among Black people. One reason HRC underperformed Obama among Black voters was the lack of outreah

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5 users have voted.

@Funkygal
Don't underestimate tribalism in black people, also. They are only human, not angels, and not devils.

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0 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

Wondering what did Planned parenthood accomplish by being a hadnmaiden of the Dems. They focus a lot on electoral politics instead of other forms of activism and dont get much in return.

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12 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Funkygal

it seems like the bible-beaters are getting better service out of the republicans than pretty much any traditional democratic constituency has ever gotten out of the dems.

you'd think that the excuses would have gotten pretty thin by now.

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14 users have voted.
mimi's picture

all of them leave me with conflicting emotions and enforced mental acrobacy is taking place in my mind.

Excellent work. Will have to continue tomorrow. Too much for now. Good night.

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@mimi

have a good rest and i hope that smoking trapeze cools down before your next attempt. Smile

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4 users have voted.

https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/the-obamanauts

Savage !

Leftists often dismiss liberals and Democrats as bloodless technocrats and pallid wonks. But that’s not true of the Obamanauts. Theirs is a libidinal attachment. Not to science, reason, or Harvard but to an incongruous sense of history—dopey and epochal, encyclopedic yet uninformed. Obamanauts think of themselves as a “storied band of brothers.” They grill five-year-olds on the facts of presidential history. They speak of history lying in “our hands.” Yet many of them know little of consequence about the past. Pfeiffer thinks the demand for politicians to be authentic is a “new rule,” but Nixon was dogged by the charge of inauthenticity all the time. Virtually all of the Obamanauts are dumbfounded by the Republicans’ hatred of the Affordable Care Act, even though opposition to universal healthcare has been a rallying cry of conservatives since Harry Truman first proposed it in 1945. But Obamanauts do know that, with the exception of Harold Stassen, Obama was the first presidential candidate to campaign outside the United States and that John Kerry’s three-week trip to Vienna was “the longest any secretary of state had ever remained in any single city outside the United States in the history of the country.”
....
Pfeiffer’s self-presentation doesn’t fit with his obvious careerism. He brags about not missing a day of work since freshman year of high school. He was able to intern with Al Gore because he earned enough credits to graduate from college early. He worked for Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle before jumping onboard with Obama. But the self-styling is a tell: of how a supposed unfitness for politics makes you all too fit for politics, of the conflation between insiders and outsiders that is common to the Obamanauts, regardless of race, class, gender, or sexual orientation. Outsiders are supposed to be good because they bring the perspective of, well, outsiders. Before he worked in the Office of the White House Counsel, Shomik Dutta was pressing his street cred to the fundraising arm of the Obama campaign. His pitch? “You need someone who really understands the mid-Atlantic—the less established donors, the real-estate-developer folks.” That’s what passes for heterodoxy in these quarters. So does promising to take out Osama bin Laden, says Rhodes, who recalls “the purity of [that] event” and notes wistfully how “nothing would ever feel this right.” Outsiders are also good because they’re unstuffy; they have ordinary people problems. Which is why Mastromonaco devotes eleven pages to her diarrhea, Pfeiffer has an entire chapter on the time he was in the White House and the seat of his pants split open (“Something Pants-Splittingly Funny”), and Rhodes opens his memoir with a story about riding in the presidential limousine with no socks.

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10 users have voted.

@Funkygal Although I can't help wondering if the Obamalumni are stupid(can't understand Repubs' hatred for anything coming from the Dems) or evil(they just pretend to be surprised).

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8 users have voted.

@Funkygal
Nobody could be that stupid.

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8 users have voted.

Sanders-Gabbard 2020 !

@The Voice In the Wilderness Yup, that seems more likely

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5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Funkygal

here's a working link to the article: The Obamanauts

i thought this was a great sentence:

So perhaps Obama’s most important legacy will be one of productive disappointment: energizing a multiracial coalition of young voters whose subsequent disaffections with Obamaism and inclinations toward socialism are today remaking the left.

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10 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@joe shikspack
That so many people think Obama was the best president of their lifetime just boggles my mind. He was nothing but Bush on steroids.

So perhaps Obama’s most important legacy will be one of productive disappointment: energizing a multiracial coalition of young voters whose subsequent disaffections with Obamaism and inclinations toward socialism are today remaking the left.

This ship has sailed IMO.

At the same time, not only do the Obamanauts wish to salvage Obama’s legacy from Donald Trump; they also believe Obama’s legacy can save us from Donald Trump.

As has this one. The reason we have Trump is because of what other presidents and congress have done for decades. Obama is the reason we have Trump.


if we learn the right lessons” from Obama, “we can ensure that Donald Trump is an aberration.”

This seems easy to fix. Stop being the party of war and get back to representing we the people. Pelosi is sitting on a bill to strengthen unions and working with Trump on NAFTA 2.0 which will see more jobs offshored.

The Obamanauts have an argument that they think can be used to defeat the Republicans. It is an argument that sets out what liberals and Democrats should be saying, and how they should be saying it, in the next election and beyond. It is part sense—about economic policy, foreign policy, and so on.

Glad to see that he acknowledged that, but too bad he didn't do much about it. But I don't think that was a fluke since he's still trying to derail MFA and Bernie.

The defining issue of our time,” he said in 2011, is the economic catastrophe that has been visited upon the middle class and “all those who are fighting to get into the middle class.”

Mission accomplished, Barack.

After eight years of operatic conflict, the last thing Americans wanted was more. What they wanted was less. That’s what Obama promised them—action that was “imperfect,” victories that were “partial”—and no amount of Republican wilding would stop him from keeping that promise. Even if it meant the peace of a graveyard, the quiet of a tomb.

After 8 years of Bush I was looking for what Obama ran on not compromising with republicans. I don't think I was alone. Just read a great Twitter thread on how people feel about Obama. Not many of them think he was as good as he thinks he was.

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11 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Azazello's picture

Here's some vids:
Michael Moore Gives MSNBC’s Centrist Hosts a MUCH Needed Reality Check

Reckoning with Barack Obama's legacy as life expectancy drops

From Baltimore, How Public Officials Milk the Healthcare System for Private Gain

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16 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

@Azazello

The last video is great. There are so many people involved in government that are enriching themselves instead of doing the job people send them to do.

Remember the one time that the pentagon was audited we found they couldn't account for $21 trillion. Imagine how much more graft there is in the military since Butler wrote about it in the1930's.

But sure let's blame the deficit on poor people. Hey remember all that equipment the military left in Syria when they bugged out? Yep. It's going to need to be replaced. Sweet.

Government by greed. It's 4th grade all over again.

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18 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

Azazello's picture

@snoopydawg
but it's not what it was made out to be.
The money wasn't stolen or embezzled. It was an accounting thing, to make the accounts balance.
$21 trillion didn't end up in anybody's offshore account.
Think about it. That's more than total government spending for those years.
Yes, there's theft and waste and fraud and abuse in the Pentagon budget, but not $21 trillion worth.
That's impossible.

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6 users have voted.

@Azazello you can bet the farm I pay up.
So, trillions are unaccounted for by government accountants and auditors. Ok, a mistake. The Pentagon walks away.
And our government, Pelosi leading the charge for pay-go accountability is government accountants and auditors.
Will they walk away from mistakes before they gut Medicare and Social Security?
There are mistakes, and "real" mistakes, I guess.
Must be just fine and dandy to be the Pentagon.

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13 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@on the cusp @on the cusp
Ask your accountant. For every credit, there must be a debit so the books balance.
There is no missing $21 trillion, all the money that contractors steal is in the form of over-charges and is accounted for even in the "black budget". These were "plug-ins" having to do with transfers between government departments.

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8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

yeah, it's an accounting thing, but it's also an accountability thing. $21 trillion didn't show up in one person's offshore account, but it damned well went somewhere and taxpayers have a right to know where.

i believe that the 21 trillion dollar faux pas showed up the first time the pentagon actually attempted the accounting that congress had ordered it to do decades ago.

i propose that every time the pentagon cannot account for an amount of money, that amount is permanently deducted from its base appropriation. if they don't know where it went, they obviously didn't need it.

if the pentagon fails to provide an annual accounting - no funding until they do.

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16 users have voted.

@joe shikspack

slop there is in the system the easier it is for them to divert funds to do sketchy undocumented shit.

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13 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
and condition further spending on the result.
But, I repeat, $21 trillion didn't go missing.
All the theft is accounted for in the federal budget, it's just hidden.
They can't steal more money than has been appropriated by the Congress.
Total government spending for 2018 was $4 trillion.
Therefore, in 2018, no more than that amount could have been stolen, or gone missing.
There's outrageous theft in the Pentagon yes, but how could it have exceeded total appropriations ?

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8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

if i remember correctly, the 21 trillion number came from an analysis done by a michigan professor (mark skidmore?) and his students and covered a period of years (not sure how many) using documents that were available on the dod website until the analysis came out - they were then taken down by the guilty party.

there may be another dod inspector general investigation that came up with similar numbers and also covered multiple years.

so, no, the number probably did not exceed appropriations.

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10 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
Forbes - Has Our Government Spent $21 Trillion Of Our Money Without Telling Us?

Given that the entire Army budget in fiscal year 2015 was $120 billion, unsupported adjustments were 54 times the level of spending authorized by Congress. The July 2016 report indicates that unsupported adjustments are the result of the Defense Department's "failure to correct system deficiencies." The result, according to the report, is that data used to prepare the year-­end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail.

Michigan State University - MSU scholars find $21 trillion in unauthorized government spending ...

Skidmore got involved last spring when he heard Catherine Austin Fitts, former assistant secretary of Housing and Urban Development, refer to a report which indicated the Army had $6.5 trillion in unsupported adjustments, or spending, in fiscal 2015. Given the Army’s $122 billion budget, that meant unsupported adjustments were 54 times spending authorized by Congress. Typically, such adjustments in public budgets are only a small fraction of authorized spending.

This one is good. The Real Story of the Pentagon’s $21 Trillion Con Game

The truth is $21 trillion over that period of time works out to about $1.5 trillion per year, and if you were… If that was actually money, as some ill-thought-out articles on the left and on the right have written, we would never have had any recessions. That would be an incredible amount of deficit spending into the economy every year. We’d have a lot of inflation, but we wouldn’t have any recessions. There’s no sign of that money flowing into the economy. It’s not real money.

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7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

Skidmore thought Fitts had made a mistake. “Maybe she meant $6.5 billion and not $6.5 trillion,” he said. “So I found the report myself and sure enough it was $6.5 trillion.”

?

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2 users have voted.

@Azazello

The truth slips out...

It's not real money.

But who's counting anyway?
Remember the pallets of US dollars being wheeled
into Iraq (filmed footage) that just disappeared?
Turns out .. 'It's not real money'

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9 users have voted.

May we be united and strong -- laurel

Azazello's picture

@QMS
It was money that was the property of Iraq that was deposited in US banks.
It was confiscated, turned into cash and shipped over on pallets.
I'm sure a lot of it made its way back to the US.
Different situation.

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4 users have voted.

That only makes it more obvious that it is deliberate because it has been ongoing for some
time.

@Azazello

Of course it doesn't represent $21 trillion in cash in someones account. It is likely spread among thousands of individuals and companies, and in many different asset forms. But it does represent some money analog that was put into the pot, is now gone, and for which no one can document goods or services which were purchased.

Accounting is a very mature discipline. And the Pentagon has access to the world's most advanced technology and brightest people. No excuse for this is acceptable. No serious business would tolerate this unless it was to deliberately obfuscate fraud.

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5 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@entrepreneur
Look at the amounts involved, more than the entire "defense" budget.
How could that be ?
Money must be appropriated by Congress before it can be stolen.

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3 users have voted.

@Azazello

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@Azazello

is gibberish. Because if the less than $1 trillion per year magnitude of the total budget precludes $21 trillion in missing value then it also precludes any legitimate $21 trillion adjustments. If your legitimate household income is $25K/year and you fudge changes in your checkbook totaling $500K then the IRS is going to call bullshit.

Your point is compelling but it just indicates to me that the fraud is more convoluted. For example it's plausible that the $21 trillion accounting "error" is a haystack in which to hide $1 trillion in outright graft. "Oh darn. Silly us! We made some dumb accounting errors. How could we be off by $21 trillion? No matter. There, we fixed it. Move along. Nothing to see here."

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4 users have voted.

@joe shikspack @joe shikspack excuse henceforth!
My county came up with $260,000 shortfall nobody would account for. The auditor called graft, ran for county judge, won, was hunting for that money, and within 6 months, was thrown out of office for misuse of his county issued computer.
This is a very serious and sensitive subject for me.
I was his defense attorney.

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12 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@on the cusp
21 trillion dollars went missing, more money than was ever appropriated by the Congress during those years. Hard to believe, but it's too juicy not to be true.

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2 users have voted.

@Azazello will be doing the pay-go budget.
I understand your theory, cannot argue it, but that leaves us with strange plug ins nobody can trace that will cut social benefits and it is a huge problem.
I see a trend toward ending social programs.
Peace, Az.

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8 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@on the cusp
It was explained to me by an accountant and former Asst. Sec. of the Army.

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1 user has voted.

@on the cusp

to $21 trillion worth of "mistakes". If only the Pentagon had some computers or some people who know about math and logistics and stuff.

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11 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@entrepreneur  
in an age when computers ran on punch cards, but now when computing technology is millions of times faster with billions of times more storage and money flows forth from the Fed like effluent from a hog or chicken feedlot, we can’t do any of that stuff anymore.

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9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Azazello

great lineup of videos. special thanks for the video about baltimore's corruption. i guess at least we're number one at something other than the murder rate. Smile

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7 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
Baltimore is just getting coverage because that Healthy Holly scam was so clumsy.
I'm guessing the same type of thing is going on in cities all over the country.
It's just executed more skillfully.

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5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

just as Trump is using it for the first time. Argh! The guy wrote checks before the PA was formed, but it's of course okay for the CIA to spend billions arming AQ who then let the weapons fall into the hands of ISIS. Effing hypocrisy!

With today’s strong economy that could include areas with unemployment rates of under 5 percent — a rate normally considered to be full employment. In 2016, there were 3.8 million individual ABAWDs on the SNAP rolls, with 2.8 million (or almost 74 percent) of them not working. This is unacceptable to most Americans and belies common sense, particularly when employment opportunities are as plentiful as they currently are.

Of course no one should ever address corporate welfare that costs much more than food stamps do. Or readjust the farm bill so that second and third cousins of a farmer can't get farm subsidies. Gee if only congress was concerned about saving money they would look into the amount of graft in it. Cutting $127 from SNAP will see lots of people dying. Period. But then isn't that the point of these attacks on the poor? Sure it is.

The unemployment numbers don't tell the whole story now does it? Lots of the jobs people are working are gig jobs or don't pay a living wage. But let's not address the fact that the federal minimum wage is still far below what it should be.

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14 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

if you ever wanted a proof that the democrats are useless and don't work in the interests of the people - failing to sunset the patriot act is it. every representative reptile that voted for it needs to find other work.

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14 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

Tim Canova was on Jimmy's show. It was a good interview. His story makes you think voting is kabuki theater...it probably is. Alabama's dim primary in 2016 was 18 points off from the exit polls. They did no more exit polls there after in later primaries.
(17 min)

and Matt Taibbi was on Chris' show discussing his book about Eric Gardner's death
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcFpNY6u4xM (27 min)

Thanks for the music and news, joe! Y'all have a nice evening.

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13 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

Shahryar's picture

@Lookout

Back in 1982 when pollsters blew the California governor's race they felt it was important to their reputations to make up a reason....kinda like the Dems made up the Russia thing.

Now these pollsters don't bother. I think it's because they're now hired for propaganda/PR purposes, where accuracy is coincidental.

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13 users have voted.

@Shahryar

to manipulating it. Just like the major media outlets.

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13 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@Lookout

thanks for the vids!

i wish tim canova the best of luck, the tide of corruption is pretty huge.

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6 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@joe shikspack  
after dispatching a challenge from Tim Canova under dubious circumstances, now has her sights set on becoming the next chair of the House Appropriations Committee.

https://lite.qwant.com/?q=debbie+wasserman+schultz+house+appropriations+...

Crime pays in U.S. politics.

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5 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

Ah, Monday ~ after a holiday. Its difficult to get back to routine. Especially this time of year for me because my two-week break is 2.5 weeks away. It will fly by.

We're almost three years on with Herr Drumpf. By this time next year, I hope we are looking forward to President 46's reign.

Enjoy the evening, folks! Pleasantry

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6 users have voted.

“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yep, i'm looking forward to the xmas break, too. i'm ready.

have a great evening!

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4 users have voted.

You sure packed a lot into this evenings blues. Will have to go back and read more in depth about some of what you shared.

Interesting how Tom Perez is showing some true colors in thinking that maybe we should change the rule on the number of individual donors so that Michael Bloomberg can make the next debate stage. No change on the rules for anyone else. Kind of shows where his bread is buttered.

Thanks again and hope you enjoyed your time off some this. Glad for all the news you handed us this evening.

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12 users have voted.

Life is what you make it, so make it something worthwhile.

This ain't no dress rehearsal!

joe shikspack's picture

@jakkalbessie

yep, there was a lot of news to catch up with, sorry about the sudden deluge. Smile

perez is obama's hand-picked guy. he will amend twist the rules into pretzels if necessary to do the centrists' bidding.

thanks! i had a great thanksgiving weekend and got some serious relaxation in.

have a great evening!

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11 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

This is the start of a great Twitter thread.

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13 users have voted.

America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

joe shikspack's picture

@snoopydawg

boy, there is no smear that is either too despicable or too obviously ridiculous for certain media/government/intelligence groups to use to prevent pinkos from giving the people what they want.

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12 users have voted.
mimi's picture

Please let your contacts write a nice little letter to the people at the 'REALNEWS' network and at 'RISING' to speak a little slowlier?

My feeling is that they are talking truth to power and are very smart doing it, but they talk so fast that a bamboozled old lady starts having conspiracy theories about them talking THAT fast just to hide something nefarious under their tongue. /s

And the good Germans on the other side of the pond start to imitate exactly that on their local German political talk shows too. Talking fast and over one another.

That's definitely a no no in my books.

As I was an accountant once in my life and managed to throw out my direct German boss in a Washington DC based German non-for-profit political think tank, I value precision.

It was around fifteen years ago. That boss of mine was stealing a mid six-digit amount of dollars from our bank accounts filled with money paid by German tax payers. He was able to steal with the help of some South American little poor intern guy, who photoshopped the bills for him. So I have a little tick when it comes to be able to follow the conversation word by word and numbers on digit at a time.

I kept my job and my boss lost his (which is I think was quite remarkable). The headquarters of that Think Tank in Berlin, Germany, who I happened to visit just for 'fun' during my vacation days, had no choice but to admit there was no way to ignore my material that proved the theft by my boss in the US.

After that I have had it with money stuff and quit that accounting job half a year later. I was lucky enough to be able to start as a little mouse in the archives of a German TV news producing studio in DC. Still I was glad of having sent my previous boss to hell without ever needing the German press to do it.

The story would have been a feast for American newspapers to cover. Evil Germans ... you know ... that's juicy stuff few American journalists would have let pass by. Especially as I discovered in the National Library of Congress' news paper archives that there had been a similar 'case' with a German Association located in Washington DC some fifteen or twenty years earlier. It was back then covered by the Washington Post for days.

I gave myself three thumbs up for my 'accounting skills' while not abusing my available contacts to the press to 'help with it'.

A blind chicken also finds a grain once in a while, as the saying goes.

Darn thing is that the EB is triggering my memories ever so often. But then I have to admit I love the EB for exactly that - I am silently in love with it.
Smile

Thanks for listening. Keep on, going on, as lookout would say.

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4 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

@mimi

on almost all their stories. I do the same with democracy now when there's a piece I want to read. Amy's gone off the deep end on Ukrainegate just like she did for Russiagate. A severe case of TDS. So I go there less and less often.

The hill has some of Rising's broadcast text. Check it out here:
https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising

Hope that helps.

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5 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

mimi's picture

@Lookout
the link for RISING you posted. Thanks. Otherwise, I like to read the text versions when I have the time, sometimes they are not posted yet, when I read or watch the video clips on the EB. So, I miss them to read later, because the next EB or your next Weekly Watch Edition on Sunday is already there to read first. Deluge. (Schlammlavinen !)

Basically I am just too slow. But the RISING link is of great help.

Democracy NOW, I usually don't need the texts, as Amy talks not too fast. My favorite sites are Truthdig, The Real News, Rising, Common Dreams and Democracy Now, though I don't read the last two of the list that often. People have said here Democracy Now lost its track a bit with Russiagate and Ukrainegate. I haven't read it too often lately to be able to make my own judgement about it. Heh, can't allow the C99p-ers make judgements for me - just kidding - ... Wink

Thanks for your help. Smile

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1 user has voted.

@Lookout
she stated that the stories about Hunter biden and Burisma have been debunked. ?!?

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0 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

@mimi  
Click on the “gear / Zahnrad” symbol and one of the things that can be adjusted is playback speed.

Other video playback user interfaces may have a similar tool setting available.

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2 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@lotlizard
that there is this option for the playback speed. I just are too fast in getting frustrated. You are an angel. I will try it out.
Give rose

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3 users have voted.