The Evening Blues - 1-14-19
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features doo wop and r&b group The Coasters. Enjoy!
The Coasters - I’m A Hog For You
“The ones who are insane enough to think that they can rule the world are always the ones who do.”
-- Stefan Molyneux
News and Opinion
Introducing The Democrats, the new enemies of peace.
As Democratic Elites Reunite With Neocons, the Party’s Voters Are Becoming Far More Militaristic and Pro-War Than Republicans
While Democrats were more or less evenly divided early last year on whether the U.S. should continue to intervene in Syria, all that changed once Trump announced his intention to withdraw, which provoked a huge surge in Democratic support for remaining. “Those who voted for Democrat Clinton now said by a 42-point margin that the U.S. had a responsibility to do something about the fighting in Syria involving ISIS,” Edwards-Levy wrote, “while Trump voters said by a 16-point margin that the nation had no such responsibility.” (Similar trends can be seen among GOP voters, whose support for intervention in Syria has steadily declined as Trump has moved away from his posture of the last two years — escalating bombings in both Syria and Iraq and killing far more civilians, as he repeatedly vowed to do during the campaign — to his return to his other campaign pledge to remove troops from the region.)
This is, of course, not the first time that Democratic voters have wildly shifted their “beliefs” based on the party affiliation of the person occupying the Oval Office. The party’s base spent the Bush-Cheney years denouncing war on terror policies, such as assassinations, drones, and Guantánamo as moral atrocities and war crimes, only to suddenly support those policies once they became hallmarks of the Obama presidency. But what’s happening here is far more insidious. A core ethos of the anti-Trump #Resistance has become militarism, jingoism, and neoconservatism. Trump is frequently attacked by Democrats using longstanding Cold War scripts wielded for decades against them by the far right: Trump is insufficiently belligerent with U.S. enemies; he’s willing to allow the Bad Countries to take over by bringing home U.S. soldiers; his efforts to establish less hostile relations with adversary countries is indicative of weakness or even treason.
'A Reckless Advocate of Military Force': Demands for John Bolton's Dismissal After Reports He Asked Pentagon for Options to Strike Iran
Reminding the world that he is, as one critic put it, "a reckless advocate of military force," the Wall Street Journal revealed on Sunday that President Donald Trump's National Security Adviser John Bolton "asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with military options to strike Iran last year, generating concern at the Pentagon and State Department."
"It definitely rattled people," a former U.S. official said of the request, which Bolton supposedly made after militants aligned with Iran fired mortars into the diplomatic quarter of Baghdad, Iraq that contains the U.S. Embassy in early September. "People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran."
"The Pentagon complied with the National Security Council's request to develop options for striking Iran," the Journal reported, citing unnamed officials. "But it isn't clear if the proposals were provided to the White House, whether Mr. Trump knew of the request, or whether serious plans for a U.S. strike against Iran took shape at that time."
The Journal's report, which comes just days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivered an "arrogant tirade" of a speech vilifying Iran, sparked immediate alarm among critics of the Trump administration's biggest warmongers—who, over the past several months, have been accused of fomenting unrest in Iran and laying the groundwork for war. ...
As the Journal noted, "Alongside the requests in regards to Iran, the National Security Council asked the Pentagon to provide the White House with options to respond with strikes in Iraq and Syria as well."
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters on Saturday that the government under Venezuela’s recently re-inaugurated president Nicolas Maduro is “illegitimate”, and that “the United States will work diligently to restore a real democracy to that country.” Pompeo’s remarks, which were echoed by Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, are interesting for a couple of reasons. The first is because Venezuela’s presidential election in May of last year (which incidentally was found to have been perfectly legitimate by the international Council of Electoral Experts of Latin America) was actively and aggressively meddled in by the US and its allies. The second is that while the US government is openly broadcasting its intention to keep interfering in Venezuela’s political system, it continues to scream bloody murder about alleged Russian interference in its own democratic process two years ago.
What is the difference between the behavior of the United States, which remains far and away the single worst offender in foreign election meddling on the planet, and what Russia is accused of having done in 2016? According to a comment made by former CIA Director James Woolsey last year, it’s that the US interferes in foreign democracies “for a very good cause.” And that’s really the only argument that empire loyalists have going for them on this subject. The US is different because the US has moral authority. It’s okay for the US to continue to interfere in the political affairs of foreign nations while it would be an unforgivable and outrageous “act of war” for a nation like Russia to do the exact same thing, because the US is countering the interests of the Bad Guys while Russia is countering the interests of the Good Guys. Who decided who the Good Guys and Bad Guys are in this argument? The US. ...
America’s constant military interventionism, election interference and other nastiness are painted as Good Things done by Good Guys to fight the Bad Guys. The argument, when you boil it right down, is that if America wasn’t constantly starting wars, invading sovereign nations, staging coups, sponsoring proxy conflicts, arming terrorists, bombing civilians, torturing people, implementing starvation sanctions on impoverished populations, pointing nuclear weapons everywhere, spying on us all with a globe-spanning Orwellian surveillance network, interfering in foreign elections, and patrolling the skies with flying death robots, the Bad Guys might win.
Sort of makes you wonder who the Bad Guys really are, huh?
Turkey’s foreign minister has hit back at Donald Trump over his threat to economically devastate the country if it follows through on a planned operation against Kurdish forces in northern Syria, saying Ankara will not be intimidated by its Nato ally.
“We have said repeatedly we are not scared of and will not be intimidated by any threats,” said Mevlut Cavasoglu in televised remarks from Ankara on Monday, before rebuking the US president for using Twitter for sensitive diplomatic matters. “Strategic partners, allies, do not hold discussions via Twitter, via social media,” Cavasoglu told reporters.
Trump said in tweets on Sunday that Turkey would face economic consequences if it attacked Kurdish fighters in Syria. Ankara views them as members of a Kurdish group outlawed in Turkey as terrorist organisation.
He also suggested the creation of a 20-mile (32km) “safe zone”, without detailing its location or who would create, enforce or pay for this area. Cavasoglu was warmer towards the idea, saying Turkey was not against the idea of a buffer zone on the Turkish-Syrian border.
Worth a full read:
The FBI’s Investigation of Trump as a “National Security Threat” is Itself a Serious Danger. But J. Edgar Hoover Pioneered the Tactic
Last week, the New York Times reported that the FBI, in 2017, launched an investigation of President Trump “to consider whether the president’s own actions constituted a possible threat to national security” and specifically “whether he had been working on behalf of Russia against American interests.” The story was predictably treated as the latest in an endless line of Beginning-of-the-End disasters for the Trump presidency, though – as usual – this melodrama was accomplished by steadfastly ignoring the now-standard, always-buried paragraph pointing out the boring fact that no actual evidence of guilt has yet emerged:
No evidence has emerged publicly that Mr. Trump was secretly in contact with or took direction from Russian government officials. An F.B.I. spokeswoman and a spokesman for the special counsel's office both declined to comment.
The lack of any evidence of guilt has never dampened the excitement over Trump/Russia innuendo, and it certainly did not do so here. Beyond being construed as some sort of vindication for the most deranged version of Manchurian Candidate fantasies – because, after all, the FBI would never investigate anyone unless they were guilty – the FBI’s investigation of the President as a national security threat was also treated as some sort of unprecedented event in U.S. history. “This is, without exception, the worst scandal in the history of the United States,” pronounced NBC News’ resident ex-CIA operative, who – along with a large staple of former security state agents employed by that network – is now paid to “analyze” and shape the news.
The FBI’s counterintelligence investigation of Trump is far from the first time that the FBI has monitored, surveilled and investigated U.S. elected officials who the agency had decided harbored suspect loyalties and were harming national security. The FBI specialized in such conduct for decades under J. Edgar Hoover, who ran the agency for 48 years and whose name the agency’s Washington headquarters continues to feature in its name. ... It was a dangerous and shameful moment when J. Edgar Hoover investigated U.S. politicians as potential traitors and stooges because he believed they were too deferential and subservient to Russia, or because their advocated plans for peace with Moscow were “contrary to American interests.” It’s no better when the agency housed in the headquarters that, revealingly, still bears Hoover’s name does the same today.
Durbin Calls for Senate Hearings to Probe 'Serious Questions' About Why Trump Is 'So Chummy' With Putin
"Why is he so chummy with Vladimir Putin?" Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of President Donald Trump's relationship with his Russian counterpart after a series of recent reports provoked more "serious questions" about their interactions, and as public anticipation continues to build over the forthcoming results of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
In an interview with ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, Durbin noted key details about Putin's past and his actions as Russia's president: "This man who is a former KGB agent, never been a friend of the United States, invaded our allies, threatens us around the world, and tries his damnedest to undermine our elections. Why is this President Trump's best buddy? I don't get it."
Durbin, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), the new committee chairman, to hold investigative hearings into whether Trump has been "compromised by" Russia. As the senator from Illinois said, "It's within his power to hold these investigations, and he should." ...
Appearing on "Fox News Sunday," Graham, for his part, said, "I, for one, don't trust what I read in the New York Times," but also that he plans to ask current FBI director Christopher Wray to confirm the details of the reporting. "I'm going to ask the FBI director was there a counterintelligence investigation opened up regarding the president as being a potential agent of the Russians," Graham said. "I find it astonishing, and to me it tells me a lot about the people running the FBI, [former Deputy Director Andrew] McCabe and that crowd."
"So if this really did happen, Congress needs to know about it," Graham added. "And what I want to do is make sure how could the FBI do that? What kind of checks and balances are there?"
On day 24 of the partial government shutdown, the longest in history, Senate Republicans seemed best placed to negotiate a reopening of shuttered federal departments and threatened services and the restoration of pay to 800,000 workers. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has worked assiduously to get close to Donald Trump, said he told the president he should reopen the government temporarily, to pursue a deal. Some Democrats voiced support.
But on Monday morning, en route to New Orleans where he is due to address a farming convention, Trump told reporters he had rejected Graham’s suggestion. “I’m not interested,” he said of the senator’s proposal. “I want to get it solved. I don’t want to just delay it. I want to get it solved.”
Trump, has remained attuned to conservative media, which speaks for and to his base and on which support has not wavered for his stance on funds for a border wall.
Following reporting that the Trump administration is planning an attack on Medicaid by seeking key changes in how the program is financed—changes it wants to make without Congressional approval—Democratic lawmakers and healthcare advocates are warning the proposal means healthcare for millions of Americans will be threatened as states will be forced to "make draconian cuts."
The plan, Politico reported Friday citing "three administration sources," would involve states being able to opt for block grants instead of receiving open ended funding as they do now, for supposedly "more flexibility to run the low-income health program that serves nearly 75 million Americans, from poor children, to disabled people, to impoverished seniors in nursing homes."
As for that touted "flexibility," Hannah Katch, senior policy analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, previously laid out in a blog post:
states already enjoy expansive flexibility under Medicaid, which they're using to streamline healthcare delivery and improve health. A block grant would likely sharply cut federal funding over time and shift large costs to states, eliminating states' ability to invest in innovative reforms. It would only give states the flexibility to make draconian cuts, leaving many beneficiaries uninsured or without access to needed healthcare.
Moreover, as Kelly Allen of the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy explained in a tweet, "Entitlement programs like SNAP and Medicaid see increased need when the economy worsens or during natural disasters. But with a block grant—sorry—it's a fixed pie and when the money is gone, it's gone." ...
Offering an 18-point Twitter thread to expose the dangers of proposal, Rebecca Vallas, who serves as vice president for the Center for American Progress's Poverty to Prosperity Program, asserted, "Make no mistake: people will die if Medicaid block grants take effect."
California’s largest power company intends to file for bankruptcy as it faces tens of billions of dollars in potential liability after massive wildfires that have devastated parts of the state over the past two years, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Pacific Gas and Electric said Monday that declaring insolvency is “ultimately the only viable option to restore PG&E’s financial stability to fund ongoing operations and provide safe service to customers.”
The California wildfires, which have killed dozens of people and destroyed thousands of homes, have led to a surge in insurance claims. PG&E estimates that it could be held liable for more than $30 billion, according to the SEC filing, not including potential punitive damages, fines or damages tied to future claims. The company’s wildfire insurance for 2018 was $1.4 billion. ... Among the many considerations that pushed the company closer to bankruptcy were the need to resolve its potential liabilities, extensive rebuilding efforts and “the significant increase in wildfire risk resulting from climate change,” PG&E said.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
The Coasters - Talkin' About A Woman
The Coasters - Searchin'
The Coasters - Wake Me, Shake Me
The Coasters - Down Home Girl
The Coasters - Poison Ivy
The Coasters - Along Came Jones
The Coasters - Let's Go Get Stoned
The Coasters - Run Red Run
The Coasters - Framed
The Coasters - Turtle Dovin'