The Evening Blues - 12-6-22



eb1pt12


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Screamin Jay Hawkins

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features novel blues singer Screamin Jay Hawkins. Enjoy!

Screamin' Jay Hawkins - Shut Your Mouth When You Sneeze

"There’s class warfare, all right, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning."

-- Warren Buffett


News and Opinion

Chris Hedges: Know Thine Enemy

The Congressional decision to prohibit railroad workers from going on strike and force them to accept a contract that meets few of their demands is part of the class war that has defined American politics for decades. The two ruling political parties differ only in rhetoric. They are bonded in their determination to reduce wages; dismantle social programs, which the Bill Clinton administration did with welfare; and thwart unions and prohibit strikes, the only tool workers have to pressure employers. This latest move against the railroad unions, where working conditions have descended into a special kind of hell with massive layoffs, the denial of even a single day of paid sick leave, and punishing work schedules that include being forced to “always be on call,” is one more blow to the working class and our anemic democracy.

The rage by workers towards the Democratic Party, which once defended their interests, is legitimate, even if, at times, it is expressed by embracing proto-fascists and Donald Trump-like demagogues. Dating back to the Clinton administration with NAFTA, the greatest betrayal of the working class since the 1947 Taft-Hartley Act, the Democratic Party has become a full partner in the corporate assault on workers. The cloying feel-your-pain rhetoric, a staple of the Joe Biden White House, is offset by a hypocritical subservience to the billionaire class. ...

The railroad barons refuse to permit sick days because they have stripped the railroads down to skeleton crews in a process known as precision scheduled railroading, or PSR. In essence, no spare labor is available, which is why the reduced labor force is subjected to such punishingly short periods of time off and onerous working conditions.

Class struggle defines human history. We are dominated by a seemingly omnipotent corporate elite. Hostile to our most basic rights, this elite is disemboweling the nation; destroying basic institutions that foster the common good, including public schools, the postal service and health care; and is incapable of reforming itself. The only weapon left to thwart this ongoing pillage is the strike. Workers have the collective power to slash profits and cripple industry, which is why the ruling class has gone to such lengths to defang unions and outlaw strikes. A rail freight strike, it is estimated, would cost the U.S. economy $2 billion a day, with daily losses increasing the longer a strike continued. ...

The Democrats insist they are the party of the working class. Joe Biden calls himself “a proud pro-labor president.” But they pile up one empty promise after another. In 2020, they promised, for example, that with control of the White House and both branches of Congress, they would pass a law to strengthen collective bargaining. Instead, they revoked the collective bargaining power of one of the few unionized industries that retains it. They promised to raise the minimum wage. They failed. They promised a national paid family and medical leave program allowing all employees to take up to 12 weeks of paid time off. It never happened. They promised to impose a federal tax rate on corporations ranging from 21 percent to 28 percent, so that “wealthy Americans and big corporations pay their fair share.” The proposed tax increase was promised to pass legislation to ensure that super PACs “are wholly independent of campaigns and political parties.” It went nowhere. They then mounted a midterm election campaign, which cost both parties a staggering $16.7 billion and was funded by massive infusions of PAC money. ...

All the advances we made in the early 20th century through union strikes, government regulation, the New Deal, a fair tax code, the courts, an alternative press and mass movements have been reversed. The oligarchs are turning American workers — as they did in the 19th century steel and textile factories — into serfs, kept in check by onerous anti-union laws, militarized police, the world’s largest prison system, an electoral system dominated by corporate money and the most pervasive security and surveillance apparatus in human history. The rich, throughout history, have subjugated and re-subjugated the populations they control. And the public, throughout history, has awakened to the class war waged by the oligarchs and plutocrats and revolted. Let us hope that defying Congress, freight railroad workers carry out a strike. A strike will at least expose the fangs of the ruling class, the courts, law enforcement and the National Guard, much as they did during labor unrest in the 20th century, and broadcast a very public message about whose interests they serve. Besides, a strike might work. Nothing else will.

An excellent article. Here's the intro to whet your link-clicking appetite:

Scott Ritter: Merkel Reveals West’s Duplicity

Recent comments by former German Chancellor Angela Merkel shed light on the duplicitous game played by Germany, France, Ukraine and the United States in the lead-up to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February. While the so-called “collective west” (the U.S., NATO, the E.U. and the G7) continue to claim that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was an act of “unprovoked aggression,” the reality is far different: Russia had been duped into believing there was a diplomatic solution to the violence that had broken out in the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine in the aftermath of the 2014 U.S.-backed Maidan coup in Kiev.

Instead, Ukraine and its Western partners were simply buying time until NATO could build a Ukrainian military capable of capturing the Donbass in its entirety, as well as evicting Russia from Crimea.

In an interview last week with Der Spiegel, Merkel alluded to the 1938 Munich compromise. She compared the choices former British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had to make regarding Nazi Germany with her decision to oppose Ukrainian membership in NATO, when the issue was raised at the 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest. By holding off on NATO membership, and later by pushing for the Minsk accords, Merkel believed she was buying Ukraine time so that it could better resist a Russian attack, just as Chamberlain believed he was buying the U.K. and France time to gather their strength against Hitler’s Germany

The takeaway from this retrospection is astounding. Forget, for a moment, the fact that Merkel was comparing the threat posed by Hitler’s Nazi regime to that of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, and focus instead in on the fact that Merkel knew that inviting Ukraine into NATO would trigger a Russian military response. Rather than reject this possibility altogether, Merkel instead pursued a policy designed to make Ukraine capable of withstanding such an attack.

War, it seems, was the only option Russia’s opponents had ever considered.

Ukraine Fires Missiles DEEP INTO RUSSIA

Explosions rock two Russian airbases far from Ukraine frontline

Explosions have rocked two Russian airbases far from the frontlines as Kyiv appeared to launch a pre-emptive strike on bombers that the Kremlin has used to try to cripple the Ukrainian electrical grid. The Russian defence ministry confirmed the attacks on Monday, claiming two of its warplanes had been damaged when it intercepted two Ukrainian drones. For Kyiv the strike represented an unprecedented operation deep inside Russia to disrupt the Kremlin strategy of provoking a humanitarian catastrophe in Ukraine on the verge of winter.

Russian media reports and video posted to social media indicated that an explosion occurred early on Monday morning at the Engels-2 airbase in Russia’s Saratov region, which hosts Tu-95 bombers that have taken part in cruise missile strikes against Ukraine. Another explosion took place at the Dyagilevo