The Evening Blues - 1-21-21
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features blues singer and songwriter Jimmy McCracklin. Enjoy!
Jimmy McCracklin - Georgia Slop
"This is the face of our political class: arrogant, authoritarian, and on the level of some banana republic south of the border. Welcome to the New America, where leader-worship has taken the place of politics, Team Red and Team Blue battle it out to see who gets to be El Supremo for the next four years, and politics resembles a prolonged soccer game."
-- Justin Raimondo
News and Opinion
Our long national nightmare is over.
Our next one is just beginning.
— Gravel Institute (@GravelInstitute) January 20, 2021
In early 2003, as government buildings across Iraq were being looted, Donald Rumsfeld told reporters, “Freedom’s untidy.” Iraq was “being liberated”, he said. “Free people are free to make mistakes and commit crimes and do bad things. They’re also free to live their lives and do wonderful things.” Iraqi journalist Ali Adeeb Alnaemi was in Baghdad at the time. “I was driving around and seeing looting and burning while American soldiers were standing there, and they would say to me, ‘We have no orders to interfere,’” he said. He knew what he was seeing: “This is not freedom.”
Almost two decades later, supporters of a different Republican president invaded and looted the US Capitol and left five people dead. Amid a huge security crackdown in the aftermath, a secure “Green Zone” has even been created in the heart of Washington DC – just as the US military did in Baghdad. Alnaemi watched the news coverage in shock. It was like “living a nightmare again”, he said. Also as in 2003, the chaos and violence he was witnessing had originated from lies spread by the US president and his administration. The invasion of Iraq had been justified by false claims about weapons of mass destruction. “Now it’s, ‘take back your country’, ‘Stop the steal’,” Alnaemi said. “Different lies, but they have similar effects.” ...
“I expected this in Baghdad. I never imagined this in Washington,” said Seth Moulton, a Massachusetts congressman who fought in Iraq, to the Guardian. “It’s hard to see the pantheon of our democracy fortified like the war zones I used to know,” tweeted Jason Crow, a Colorado congressman, saying that he had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan “so we could enjoy peace at home”.
Other American veterans said the images from Washington were surreal, but not exactly surprising. Matt Gallagher, a writer and army veteran who served in Iraq, described “this strange sense of inevitability”, as he looked at the photographs of concertina wire and traffic control points and “young national guardsmen, many of whom were probably born around 9/11”.
“Their America has always done this elsewhere,” he said. “Now it’s happening here.” Captioning a photograph of troops on Capitol Hill, he wrote, “We’ve done forever-warred ourselves.”
Warning Against Further 'Erosion' of Civil Liberties, Tlaib Leads Charge Against New Domestic Terrorism Laws
Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan on Tuesday sent a letter to House and Senate leaders in which she and nine colleagues argued against expanding the national security state and further curtailing civil liberties in the aftermath of the deadly attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.
"The Trump mob's success in breaching the Capitol was not due to a lack of resources at the disposal of federal law enforcement, and in this moment we must resist the erosion of our civil liberties and Constitutional freedoms, however well-intentioned proposed security reforms may be," the lawmakers wrote in the letter (pdf), which was endorsed by Demand Progress, Free Press, Win Without War, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
"We firmly believe that the national security and surveillance powers of the U.S. government are already too broad, undefined, and unaccountable to the people," added Tlaib and nine additional Democratic representatives—Earl Blumenauer (Ore.), Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Pramila Jayapal (Wash.), Mondaire Jones (N.Y.). Ro Khanna (Calif.), Barbara Lee (Calif.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (Minn.), and Ayanna Pressley (Mass.).
"To further degrade those rights and liberties in reaction to this attack," they wrote, "would undermine our democracy at a time when we must join together to defend it with all our collective might."
Several initiatives throughout the nation's history were "sold as being necessary to fight extremism but quickly devolved into tools used for the mass violation of the human and civil rights of the American people," the ten legislators asserted, including the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), the Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO), the USA Patriot Act, and the FBI's anti-Black Lives Matter Operation Iron Fist.
"While many may find comfort in increased national security powers in the wake of this attack, we must emphasize that we have been here before and we have seen where that road leads," they wrote.
The lawmakers stressed how quickly "expanded national security and surveillance powers [are] turned on law-abiding Americans," especially individuals who are non-white and/or anti-capitalist. They noted that "to expand the government's national security powers once again at the expense of the human and civil rights of the American people would only serve to further undermine our democracy, not protect it."
The letter comes amid reports that some Republican lawmakers at the state level are already exploiting the January 6 insurrection to introduce anti-protest bills in what critics say is an opportunistic attempt to build upon preexisting efforts to criminalize left-wing dissent and civil disobedience rather than a push to undermine the growth of right-wing extremism.
Shortly before Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States, Dave Hayes – a longtime QAnon influencer who goes by the name Praying Medic – posted a photo of dark storm clouds gathering over the US Capitol on the rightwing social media platform Gab. “What a beautiful black sky,” he wrote to his 92,000 followers, appending a thunderclap emoji. The message was clear to those well-versed in QAnon lore: “the Storm” – the day of reckoning when Donald Trump and his faithful allies in the military would declare martial law, round up all their many political enemies, and send them to Guantánamo Bay for execution by hanging – was finally here. 20 January 2021 wouldn’t mark the end of Trump’s presidency, but the beginning of “the Great Awakening”.
Instead, Trump slunk off to Florida and Biden took the oath of office under a clear blue sky. Now QAnon adherents are left to figure out how to move forward in a world that, time and time again, has proven impervious to their fevered fantasies and fascistic predictions. And while some seem to be waking up to reality, others are doubling down, raising concerns among experts that the movement is ripe for even more extreme radicalization. ...
As Biden took the oath of office just before noon on Wednesday, a QAnon channel on Telegram lit up with laments.
“We’ve been lied to,” wrote one person.
“I think we have been fooled like no other,” another responded, adding: “Hate to say it. Held on to hope til this very moment.”
“I feel like I’m losing my mind,” said a third. “I don’t know what to believe anymore.”
“Anyone else feeling beyond let down right now?” read a popular post on a QAnon message board. “It’s like being a kid and seeing the big gift under the tree thinking it is exactly what you want only to open it and realize it was a lump of coal the whole time.” ...
Others returned to the process of “baking” – or reinterpreting through their obscure and esoteric epistemology – the thousands of missives that Q has posted over the years, in order to find a new way to understand the unfolding events, and to tell themselves that Q was right all along. “Like many of you, I am in shock by today’s [events] and then I realized why it had to happen and that Q told us it would happen and, why this NEEDED to happen,” read one popular post on a QAnon forum, which went on to detail a new theory that explains why Q’s false predictions were in fact correct.
One of the most important figures in QAnon, Ron Watkins, appeared ready to call it quits, writing to his more than 100,000 followers on Telegram: “We gave it our all. Now we need to keep our chins up and go back to our lives as best we are able.”
Joe Biden has marked the start of his presidency by signing a flurry of executive orders on a suite of issues, including Covid-19, the environment, immigration and ethics.
Some of the executive actions undo significant actions from Donald Trump’s administration, including halting the travel ban from Muslim-majority countries, and ending the declaration of a national emergency used to justify funding construction of a wall on the US-Mexico border.
He also signed an order allowing the United States to rejoin the Paris climate agreement and end the Trump administration’s efforts to exclude undocumented immigrants from the census data used to determine how many seats in Congress each state gets.
In other moves, Biden also revoked the permit granted for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline and instructed all executive agencies to review executive actions that were “damaging to the environment, [or] unsupported by the best available science”. Biden also ordered all executive branch employees to sign an ethics pledge and placed limits on their ability to lobby the government while he is in office. The new president also ordered federal agencies to review equity in their existing policies and come up with a plan in 200 days to address inequality in them.
With President Joe Biden now in the White House his bold pledge to vaccinate 100 million people in 100 days is to be tested.
If fulfilled effectively, Biden’s promise would strike a significant blow against the coronavirus and give a country battered by the pandemic a major boost after a year of mismanaged response that has seen more than 400,000 people die and more than 24 million infected.
But carrying out Biden’s promise will be challenging.
Following a rocky transition, Biden’s Covid-19 team will face a steep learning curve, the need to authorize more vaccine candidates and manufacture more vaccines and, perhaps most importantly, convince a sometimes skeptical American public that vaccines are the safe, effective key to ending the pandemic. ...
While independent scientific panels have found the two vaccines already authorized to be safe and highly effective, not all Americans are convinced they should get one. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation tracking poll found only 41% of Americans would “definitely get” the vaccine.
"Nothing will fundamentally change."
Biden Blasted for Continuing Trump's Recognition of Guaidó Coup Regime and Deadly Sanctions in Venezuela
In a perpetuation of Trump administration policy and nearly two centuries of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, Antony Blinken, President Joe Biden's nominee for secretary of state, told senators Tuesday that the United States will continue to recognize the coup leader Juan Guaidó as legitimate president of Venezuela.
Reuters reports Blinken told senators during his confirmation hearing that Venezuela needs "an effective policy that can restore... democracy" to the nation of 28 million people.
Although Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has alienated allies and adversaries alike with his government's numerous and serious human rights violations, he was democratically elected in 2013, and reelected in 2018.
Blinken also told the senators that the Biden administration would seek to "more effectively target" Venezuela with economic sanctions, which have been described as a form of "economic terrorism."
The sanctions are largely responsible for the crippling of Venezuela's once-thriving economy and have caused tremendous suffering for the poor and working-class people whose dramatic uplift was once hailed as the great success of the Bolivarian Revolution launched under the late President Hugo Chávez.
According to a 2019 report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a progressive think tank based in Washington, D.C., as many as 40,000 Venezuelans have died due to sanctions, which have made it much more difficult for everyday people to obtain food, medicine, and other necessities. ...
Blinken's remarks to the senators were one of a series of recent signs that the United States—which has been supporting coups and dictators in Venezuela for over a century—would stay the imperialist course under Biden.
During the contentious and sometimes calamitous transititon between administrations, Republicans and Democrats alike took comfort in a policy meeting between Elliott Abrams, former President Donald Trump's special representative for Venezuelan affairs, and members of the Biden transition team.
Abrams, whose history in the region includes involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal and covering up massacres committed by U.S.-backed death squads in Central America, called the meeting "pleasant" and left assured that he did not foresee any "major changes" in American policy toward Venezuela under Biden.
China has said it wants to cooperate with Joe Biden’s new US administration, while announcing sanctions against the “lying and cheating” outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo and 27 other top officials under Donald Trump.
The move was a sign of China’s anger, especially at an accusation Pompeo made on his final full day in office that China had committed genocide against its Uighur Muslims, an assessment that Biden’s choice to succeed Pompeo, Anthony Blinken, said he shared.
In a striking repudiation of its relationship with Washington under Trump, the Chinese foreign ministry announced the sanctions in a statement that appeared on its website as Biden was taking the presidential oath.
Pompeo and the others had “planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, gravely interfered in China’s internal affairs, undermined China’s interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-US relations”, it said.
The other outgoing and former Trump officials sanctioned included the trade chief, Peter Navarro; national security advisers Robert O’Brien and John Bolton; the health secretary, Alex Azar; UN ambassador Kelly Craft; and former top Trump aide Steve Bannon. The 28 ex-officials and immediate family members would be banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, and companies and institutions associated with them restricted from doing business with China.
Back to normal baby!! https://t.co/kdh2ika78S
— Secular Talk (@KyleKulinski) January 20, 2021
No president in American history has had more personal experience with the importance of midterm elections than Joe Biden will, upon his inauguration today. And that familiarity may make the difference in his presidency. Biden knows that he is swimming against historical currents and that he has little room for error. Every president since Harry Truman (save one) has lost seats during his first midterm — some in seismic, generation-shaping waves.
Biden has been in office for all of the major midterm waves over the last 50 years: 1974, 1978, 1994, 2006, and 2010, and he campaigned from retirement for Democrats during the 2018 wave. There is no consensus as to why presidents tend to fare so poorly in their first midterms; every unhappy midterm is unhappy in its own way. But it’s safe to say that the results hinge on a combination of the strength of the economy, approval of the president’s performance, gerrymandering, and broader structural realignments expressing themselves through elections.
A president has significant sway over most of those key elements, and Biden has a few things working in his favor. First, there is broad consensus within the party on the need for significant economic stimulus, and the recognition that former President Barack Obama suffered by not going big enough fiscally at the outset and by pivoting harmfully to austerity. ... It may have been an obviously bad idea to politically self-immolate by allowing the recession to drag out longer than it otherwise would, but the one upside is that Biden was there to witness it, as was the rest of the Democratic leadership in place now. Biden knows the price of going too small.
.@BernieSanders on CBS : "What is absolutely imperative now is that the Congress show the American people we can walk and chew bubblegum at the same time. We can impeach Trump. We can allow Biden's nominees... we deal with the crises facing working families all over this country" pic.twitter.com/cjIPGWAd8M
— People for Bernie (@People4Bernie) January 20, 2021
'The Last Administration Able to Act in Time': Youth Climate Leaders Say Global Future Depends on Boldness of Biden
Fed up with "empty promises" from world leaders, a dozen youth activists on Wednesday demanded newly sworn-in President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris take swift and bold climate action—even more far-reaching than promised on the campaign trail—stating that their "present and future depend on the actions your government takes within the next four years."
"Are you going to do what science is asking you to do to fight the climate crisis?" the youth, including Disha A. Ravi of Fridays For Future India and Sofía Gutiérrez of Fridays For Future Colombia, asked in an open letter.
The letter from the global activists was released on Biden's inauguration day as he won praise from climate organizations for a number of expected climate-related, "day one" executive actions including revoking the presidential permit for the Keystone XL Pipeline and rejoining the Paris climate deal.
Referencing the accord's more ambitious goal for a global temperature increase threshold, the youth wrote: "The next four years will decide whether we can limit temperature rise to 1.5°C. Your place in history makes you the last administration able to act in time."
Urgent action is especially important in light of the past four years, during which former President Donald Trump's deregulatory agenda and war on science fanned the flames of the climate and ecological crises. Merely going above that low bar is insufficient, according to the youth.
"Being better than Trump isn't enough," they wrote. "But also simply continuing where the Obama administration ended is far from sufficient."
According to the young activists, Biden's stated goal of achieving net-zero emissions by 2050 is simply too late. "Be braver," they wrote.
Biden’s executive action, signed in the White House on Wednesday, will see the US rejoin the international effort curb the dangerous heating of the planet, following a 30-day notice period. The world’s second largest emitter of greenhouse gases was withdrawn from the Paris deal under Donald Trump.
Biden is also set to block the Keystone XL pipeline, a bitterly contested project that would bring huge quantities of oil from Canada to the US to be refined, and halt oil and gas drilling at Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante, two vast national monuments in Utah, and the Arctic national wildlife refuge wilderness. The Trump administration’s decision to shrink the protected areas of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante will also be reviewed.
The flurry of first-day action on the climate crisis came after Biden, in his inauguration speech, said America needed to respond to a “climate in crisis”. The change in direction from the Trump era was profound and immediate – on the White House website, where all mentions of climate were scrubbed out in 2017, a new list of priorities now puts the climate crisis second only behind the Covid pandemic. Biden has previously warned that climate change poses the “greatest threat” to the country, which was battered by record climate-fueled wildfires, hurricanes and heat last year. ...
Gina McCarthy, Biden’s top climate adviser, said Biden will in all reverse “more than 100” climate-related policies enacted by Trump.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Jimmy McCracklin - She's Gone
Jimmy McCracklin - He Knows The Rules
Jimmy McCracklin - The Walk
Jimmy McCracklin - Rockin' All Day
Jimmy McCracklin - You Look So Fine
Jimmy McCracklin - Just Got To Know
Jimmy McCracklin - Stinger
Jimmy McCracklin - Double Dealing
Jimmy McCracklin - The Wobble