The Evening Blues - 1-4-19


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Clifton Chenier

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features The King of Zydeco Clifton Chenier. Enjoy!

Clifton Chenier - Tu Peux Cogner Mais Tu Peux Pas Rentrer (Keep-A-Knockin' But You Can't Come In)

"The campaign of character assassination waged [against President Clinton] by the right was a singular, unprecedented effort. Nothing like it exists on the left. What I object to on the right is the obsessive hatred, the bigotry, and the personal savaging of their opponents, all achieved through an echo chamber of talk radio, the Internet and Rupert Murdoch's media outlets. That kind of well-funded disinformation campaign has no analog on the left."

-- David Brock

News and Opinion

Exculpatory Russia evidence about Mike Flynn that US intel kept secret

For nearly two years now, the intelligence community has kept secret evidence in the Russia collusion case that directly undercuts the portrayal of retired Army general and former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn as a Russian stooge.

That silence was maintained even when former acting Attorney General Sally Yates publicly claimed Flynn was possibly “compromised” by Moscow. And when a Democratic senator, Al Franken of Minnesota, suggested the former Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) chief posed a “danger to this republic.” And even when some media outlets opined about whether Flynn’s contacts with Russia were treasonous. ...

  • Before Flynn made his infamous December 2015 trip to Moscow — as a retired general and then-adviser to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign — he alerted his former employer, the DIA.
  • He then attended a “defensive” or “protective” briefing before he ever sat alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Russia Today (RT) dinner, or before he talked with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak.
  • The briefing educated and sensitized Flynn to possible efforts by his Russian host to compromise the former high-ranking defense official and prepared him for conversations in which he could potentially extract intelligence for U.S. agencies such as the DIA.
  • When Flynn returned from Moscow, he spent time briefing intelligence officials on what he learned during the Moscow contacts. Between two and nine intelligence officials attended the various meetings with Flynn about the RT event, and the information was moderately useful, about what one would expect from a public event, according to my sources.

DIA spokesman James Kudla on Wednesday declined comment about Flynn.

Donald Trump says Syria is 'sand and death', as he defends US withdrawal from country 'lost long ago'

Donald Trump has defended his controversial decision to withdraw US troops from Syria ... the US president said: "Syria was lost long ago. It was lost long ago. We’re not talking about vast wealth. We’re talking about sand and death. I’m getting out, we’re getting out of Syria. Look, we don’t want Syria."

He added: "The Kurds, our partners are selling oil to Iran. I'm not thrilled about that, I'm not happy about it at all." However, Mr Trump said he did want to "protect" US-backed Kurdish fighters in the country as Washington draws down its 2,000 troops, which would happen "over a period of time".

During a 95-minute Cabinet meeting at the White House the president also lambasted European allies for not taking a bigger role in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. He singled out Germany, saying it was "paying one per cent" of GDP on defence, and "should be paying four per cent".

Mr Trump added that he "didn't care" if he was not personally popular in Europe. He said: "I shouldn't be popular in Europe. I want Europe to pay. I don't care about Europe. I'm not elected by Europeans, I'm elected by American taxpayers, frankly."

Pentagon official: 120-day Syria withdrawal plan aims to please Trump 'and not get everyone killed'

Pentagon officials told President Donald Trump that his order to withdraw troops from Syria within 30 days was physically impossible without significant risk to US forces, multiple informed sources tell CNN, and the new 120-day timeline is not an example of anything but reality, logistics, and physics. Despite this fact, Trump administration officials are casting the new timeline as a slowdown and an example of the President being reasonable after hearing pushback from the Pentagon and allies such as Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina.

"I said, 'You know, I never said that I'm going to rush out,'" the President told Fox News Channel in an interview that ran on Monday.

Administration officials told reporters that the President was now granting the military several months for the withdrawal while Graham told journalists Sunday, "I think we're slowing things down in a smart way ... I think we're in a pause situation where we are re-evaluating what's the best way to achieve the President's objective of having people pay more and do more."

In truth, the sources say, the 120-day timeline that's being reported as a slowdown is not a slowdown in any way, it's the minimal timeline the military needs to even execute the abrupt and sudden order in a safe and orderly manner. The 120-day timeline is the military "trying to please the President and not get everyone killed," one Pentagon official told CNN. "They should probably take longer if you ask me."

US halts cooperation with UN on potential human rights violations

The Trump administration has stopped cooperating with UN investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside America, in a move that delivers a major blow to vulnerable US communities and sends a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.

Quietly and unnoticed, the state department has ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice. There has been no response to any such formal query since 7 May 2018, with at least 13 requests going unanswered.

Nor has the Trump administration extended any invitation to a UN monitor to visit the US to investigate human rights inside the country since the start of Donald Trump’s term two years ago in January 2017. Two UN experts have made official fact-finding visits under his watch – the special rapporteurs on extreme poverty and privacy – but both were invited initially by Barack Obama, who hosted 16 such visits during his presidency. ...

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said the shift gave the impression the US was no longer serious about honoring its own human rights obligations. The ripple effect around the world would be dire. “They are sending a very dangerous message to other countries: that if you don’t cooperate with UN experts they will just go away. That’s a serious setback to the system created after World War II to ensure that domestic human rights violations could no longer be seen as an internal matter,” Dakwar said.

Massive cyber attack: Merkel among 100s of German politicians affected, media blames Russia

Hundreds of German lawmakers targeted in mass cyber attack

A stolen cache of personal information belonging to nearly 1,000 German politicians — including outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel — has been leaked, according to a report published Thursday. The information includes everything from phone numbers and credit card details to private messages with family members, German media said.

The hack has impacted national, regional and EU politicians from all major parties except for members of the far-right Alternative for Germany (Alternative für Deutschland, or AfD) party. Journalists, musicians, comedians and activists were also targeted. ...

A hacker or group of hackers spent months — possibly years — collecting highly personal data on hundreds of German politicians, as well as dozens of journalists, artists and activists. The hackers were active until at least October 2018 based on the leaked information. They began publishing it piece-by-piece last month, promoting it on Twitter in the style of an advent calendar. However, the scale of the attack was only discovered by German media this week. ...

While the information could be embarrassing for the victims, it could also lead to political scandal. One Bild journalist, Julian Röpcke, who says he has only searched three percent of the cache, claimed he had “already found cases of corruption and bad political scandals.”

Aside from AfD politicians, it appears every member of the Bundestag — Germany's national parliament — has been hit, including the entire cabinet, the chancellor and President Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

Nader: What America Can Learn From Yellow Vests

The bloodsuckers are coming for your children:

The Army, in need of recruits, turns focus to Seattle, other liberal-leaning cities

The Army is not quite counting on miracles, but after falling 6,500 soldiers short of its goal nationwide in 2018, it is trying a new strategy that might seem almost as unlikely. Rather than focus on more conservative regions of the country that traditionally fill the ranks, the Army plans a big push in 22 left-leaning cities, like Chicago, San Francisco and Seattle, where relatively few recruits have signed up.

“We want to go into Boston, Pittsburgh, Kansas City,” said Maj. Gen. Frank Muth, the head of Army Recruiting Command. “These are places with a large number of youth who just don’t know what the military is about.” ...

This time, the Army plans to focus on blue cities with traveling interactive exhibits that showcase Army careers in health care, engineering and computing. Its sky-diving team and its touring rock band will work to draw crowds, and top brass will speak at events promoting leadership and patriotism. The Army is also putting hundreds of additional recruiters in the field and increasing enlistment bonuses.

Google shifted $23bn to tax haven Bermuda in 2017, filing shows

Google moved €19.9bn ($22.7bn) through a Dutch shell company to Bermuda in 2017, as part of an arrangement that allows it to reduce its foreign tax bill, according to documents filed at the Dutch chamber of commerce. The amount channelled through Google Netherlands Holdings BV was about €4bn more than in 2016, the documents, filed on 21 December, showed. ...

For more than a decade the arrangement has allowed Google’s owner, Alphabet, to enjoy an effective tax rate in the single digits on its non-US profits, about a quarter of the average tax rate in its overseas markets. ...

The tax strategy, known as the “double Irish, Dutch sandwich”, is legal and allows Google to avoid triggering US income taxes or European withholding taxes on the funds, which represent the bulk of its overseas profits.

Israel vows to 'worsen' conditions for Palestinian prisoners

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan has announced plans to "worsen" conditions for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, including rationing water supplies and reducing the number of family visits. ...

The minister also said that there will be "clear limits" on the amount of water a prisoner consumes each day, including a cap on the number of times they are allowed to shower. ...

According to official statistics, the number of Palestinian prisoners behind bars has reached 5,500, including 230 children and 54 women. Rights groups say more than 1,800 are in need of medical care, with about 700 suffering from serious or chronic illnesses.

Many Palestinian prisoners say they have been subject to torture and violence while in custody.

Two migrant teens brutally executed in Tijuana as asylum cases pile up

David, a 17-year-old Honduran teen who arrived here as part of a migrant caravan in November, was supposed to be in the U.S. by now. But on Dec. 15, he and two friends were kidnapped and tortured in [Tijuana, Mexico]. David, whose name has been changed to protect his identity, managed to escape. But his friends — two boys, 16 and 17, who had also fled Honduras — did not. Two days later they were found dead, dumped in an alley with stab wounds and signs of strangulation.

David returned “screaming and crying nonstop,” said Uriel Gonzalez, director of the Tijuana shelter where the boys were staying. “He let [my deputy] know they have killed the other two guys. That they slaughtered them in front of him.”

The boys are believed to be the first homicide victims among the estimated 6,000 people who joined so-called “migrant caravans” in Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala and arrived in Tijuana in November. President Trump, without offering evidence, has described the caravans as an “invasion” of “hardened criminals” and tweeted that it was a “national emergency.” In October, he ordered more than 5,000 active-duty troops to the border, and in December proposed a policy requiring migrants to remain in Mexico while they await an asylum hearing.

But the boys’ murder underscores the danger migrants face as they wait in violent border cities for their asylum cases to be processed in the U.S. Tijuana has the highest homicide rate in Mexico, and every day there presents a risk, particularly for the estimated 200 or so minors who arrived there without parents or guardians.

As Most Diverse Congress in History Takes Office, Dems Push to End Shutdown Without Funding for Wall

Pelosi remains defiant on wall funding as Trump seeks fresh talks

As a partial US government shutdown hit the two-week mark on Friday, Donald Trump once again invited congressional leaders to meet him at the White House, amid an impasse over his demands for taxpayers’ money for a border wall, and Democrats taking control of the House of Representatives.

The president has invited leaders from both parties back to the White House just two days after a meeting on border security in the Situation Room did not resolve matters, and a day after Nancy Pelosi became speaker of the House and Democrats passed legislation to reopen the government. The meeting is scheduled for 11.30am in Washington.

On Thursday, Trump tried to keep the pressure on Democrats, even as they gained significant new power with their takeover of the House of Representatives at the start of a new Congress. “Build the Wall,” the president demanded on Twitter. ...

Pelosi was adamant, however. “We’re not doing a wall,” she said late on Thursday. “It has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with a wall is an immorality between countries. It’s an old way of thinking. It isn’t cost effective.” Asked if she would give Trump $1 for a wall to reopen the government, Pelosi said: “One dollar? Yeah, one dollar. The fact is a wall is an immorality. It’s not who we are as a nation.”

Late on Thursday, the House passed two Democratic bills to immediately reopen government agencies for varying lengths of time, despite a White House veto threat.

Lawrence Lessig: Trump's border wall demand is constitutionally illegitimate

The president ran on a promise to build a wall “paid for by Mexico”. No majority of Americans has ever voted to support that idea. But that idea is not the notion that is now shutting down the government. A wall paid for by taxpayers is. ... The American constitution does not contemplate such presidential unilateralism, at least unsupported by the public’s will or the constitution. Perhaps the most salient historical parallel is President Andrew Johnson’s insistence that he had the constitutional right to control (and effectively stop) reconstruction after the civil war. Like Trump, Johnson insisted on his power; like Trump, he campaigned across the country to rally the nation to his view; like Trump, his view was overwhelmingly rejected at the polls; like Trump, nevertheless, he persisted – until a Congress, exhausted by his recalcitrance, impeached him and came within a single vote of conviction.

History has taught that Johnson had the better argument constitutionally, at least on the narrow question that ultimately determined his fate – whether the president has an unconstrained right to fire executive officers. But no reading of our constitution would ever uphold the view that a president can morally stop the functioning of government, to insist upon a program unsupported by the public or unrequired by the constitution.

Of all the constitutional norms that this president has upset, this, ultimately, may be the most significant. And it is this innovation that the Republicans especially should check. For do they now concur in the precedent that a president has the constitutional authority to insist upon whatever policy he likes, regardless of its support in the public? If a Democrat were elected on the promise to establish single-payer healthcare, does she then have the moral authority to shut down the government until Congress nationalizes the insurance industry? Or directly regulates pharmaceuticals? If she were elected on the promise to address climate change, can she stop the ordinary functioning of government until Congress passes a carbon tax?

The partisan gridlock of Washington has already sorely tested the framer’s system of checks and balances. ... Gone is the norm of governance, where both sides recognize their duty to come to terms with the other. Petulance is confused with principle. And the institutions of this constitutional democracy are critically weakened in the mix.

Trump to deploy more troops to US-Mexico border on semi-permanent basis

According to press reports yesterday, the Trump administration is preparing a semi-permanent deployment of the military on the US-Mexico border. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has requested thousands more troops to militarize 160 miles of the southern border in California and Arizona in a deployment that will likely extend to September, multiple administration officials told NPR. The deployment announced by Trump last October was scheduled to expire later this month.

The announcement comes as the government shutdown approaches the end of its second week. The public face of the dispute centers on a relatively small amount of money to be spent jailing and deporting immigrants, which both parties euphemistically call “border security.” In reality, the population has been kept in the dark about the real issues behind the dispute, which most likely relate to high-level disputes between the Democratic and Republican parties over foreign policy. Both parties agree on massive expenditures for militarizing the border and deporting immigrants. Democrats have already agreed to provide Trump’s deportation and detention machine with $1.6 billion, only a few billion short of the $5 billion Trump is demanding. Last year, Democrats agreed to provide Trump with $25 billion, which included funds to construct a border wall. ...

Meanwhile, federal officials are proposing to eliminate whatever mild restrictions remain against indefinite detention of children.

Yesterday, DHS Spokeswoman Katie Waldman wrote an exclusive statement to the far-right Breitbart News: “This humanitarian crisis is driven by court rulings and poorly written laws that incentivize the smuggling of illegal immigrants under the age of 18. Funding the border wall, amending the TVPRA, and ending the Flores Settlement Agreement will put smugglers and traffickers out of business and protect vulnerable populations.” These proposals, communicated surreptitiously to the extreme-right, would mark unprecedented attacks on the conditions of tens of thousands of immigrant youth apprehended at the border.

The Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPRA) grants certain legal protections for children, including sex slaves and child laborers, who are smuggled into the United States. The DHS proposal communicated to Breitbart would mean the 15,000 children currently detained in “shelters” would be sent to even harsher immigrant detention centers and would not be released to family. The Flores Settlement Agreement mandates that family and child detainees must be released from incarceration as quickly as possible. Though the Flores Settlement requires families and children not be detained for longer than 20 days, this is already regularly violated.

Schumer: Trump threatened to keep government shut down for years

Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Friday said President Trump threatened to keep the government closed for "months or even years" until he gets his desired wall funding.

Schumer made the remarks following a closed-door meeting at the White House with Trump and congressional leaders.

Emerging from the White House, Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described a "lengthy and sometimes contentious conversation with the president." She said both sides agreed to continue talks but added that Democrats don't believe the standoff is resolved until the government is re-opened. ...

In contrast to what Democratic leaders said, Trump said the group came “a long way” during the meeting.

“I thought it was really a very, very good meeting. We’re all on the same path” toward reopening the government, Trump said. The president spoke in the Rose Garden flanked by Vice President Pence, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and House GOP leaders. Trump said he has appointed a group to negotiate a solution to the shutdown.

Workers Just Notched a Rare Win in Federal Court

In a major win for labor advocates, a federal court issued a long-awaited ruling last week finding that corporations could be held responsible for issues like wage discrimination or illegal job termination, even if the employees were subcontractors or working at a franchised company. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C Circuit determined that a business could be considered a so-called joint-employer if it exercised a certain level of “indirect control” over an employees’ working conditions, or if it reserved the authority to do so down the line. The question of who counts as a joint-employer has been integral to movements like Fight for 15, which aims to organize fast-food workers who toil away in franchised businesses.

In its decision, the D.C appellate court affirmed one of the most significant and disputed labor rulings of the Obama administration. In 2015, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that companies and franchisers with both “indirect and direct control” of employees could be held liable for labor violations committed by contractors or franchisees. The line between direct and indirect control is somewhat murky, and precisely defining it has been a matter of fierce debate, but ultimately it concerns how much authority a company has over the “essential terms and conditions of employment.” Prior to this, only employers with “direct control” could be held responsible, a standard that effectively exempted businesses that hired workers through intermediaries from most labor law. “With more than 2.87 million of the nation’s workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the Board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances,” the NLRB said at the time. ...

The appellate decision throws a big wrench into business groups’ plans to overturn the joint-employer standard. It also significantly constrains what the Republican-controlled NLRB can do to curtail labor rights going forward. The Trump administration, which has argued against expanding the meaning of joint-employers to include those who have indirect control over workers, will now have to comply with the court ruling. ...

The decision also holds implications for movements like Fight for 15. Labor advocates have been arguing in court for the last few years that McDonald’s should be held liable as a joint-employer for the fast-food workers who were fired from their jobs when they engaged in nationwide protests for higher pay. An administrative law judge rejected a settlement this past summer, under which McDonald’s would not have been found to be a joint-employer. The company had offered to pay between $20 and $50,000 to individual workers who claimed that they were fired for protesting. If McDonald’s is ultimately declared a joint-employer, the road to unionizing its employees would also be made far easier.

Progressives Cave To Pelosi On PayGo

US House Democrats reaffirm right-wing program of austerity, bipartisanship

The 116th Congress opened Thursday with a nearly unanimous vote by the Democrats in the House of Representatives reaffirming their commitment to austerity by adopting a rules package which includes a “pay as you go” provision equiring any increased spending on social programs or tax cuts to be offset by equivalent budget cuts or tax increases. ... The new rules were moved by Democratic Representative Nancy Pelosi who was re-elected to the position of Speaker of the House earlier in the day, giving her effective control of its legislative agenda. ...

Pelosi’s great “achievement” in her first stint as Speaker was the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, aimed at shifting much of the burden of paying for health insurance from businesses and the government onto the backs of workers. In 2007, she worked closely with her top aides, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer and Majority Whip James Clyburn, to block any efforts to impeach President George W. Bush and ensure an unending stream of funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hoyer and Clyburn have been returned to those positions for the 116th Congress. ...

While Pelosi told NBC News in an interview Thursday morning that it was an “open question” if Trump could be criminally indicted while in office or should be impeached, she has maneuvered over the last two years to suppress any efforts among House Democrats to move for impeachment. Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer met publicly with Trump at the White House last month in an effort to strike a deal on immigration reform where they assured the president that they supported increased border security but sought a rhetorical climbdown on his part in relation to the wall. “

Indeed, her first speech as Speaker was an olive branch to the right-wing within her own party as well as to the Republicans in Congress, singling out for praise Republican presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush and calling for bipartisanship, meaning an even further shift to the right by the Democratic Party. Among those who voted for Pelosi were Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, both members of the pseudo-left Democratic Socialists of America faction of the Democratic Party. That they both cast their votes for Pelosi’s right-wing promise of bipartisanship, and Tlaib for a rules package which commits the House to austerity, shows that their association with socialism is entirely false, meant only to misdirect youth and workers who are looking for a genuine alternative to capitalism, and trap them within the Democratic Party.

the horse race

'Trump Is Guilty': Along With Democratic Control of House Comes Renewed Push to Impeach President

As the Democratic Party took control of the U.S. House on Thursday, the first day of the 116th Congress, along with the lower chamber's leadership shift came a renewed push from some Democrats to impeach President Donald Trump.

Democratic Reps. Brad Sherman (Calif.) and Al Green (Texas) on Thursday re-introduced Articles of Impeachment against Trump for allegedly obstructing justice by firing former FBI director James Comey, among other actions. Sherman, with Green's support, had previously filed an impeachment resolution in July of 2017, when the House was under GOP control.

Since Republicans refused to hold hearings on that measure, H.Res. 438, and all legislation introduced last session but not enacted into law was terminated on Wednesday, Sherman said in a statement: "Accordingly, it's necessary and appropriate to reintroduce the Articles of Impeachment. I have not changed the text. I continue to believe that obstruction of justice is the clearest, simplest, and most provable high crime and misdemeanor committed by Donald J. Trump." ...

Now, however, Sherman and newly re-elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi seem inclined to wait until they know more about the ongoing probe into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and the possibility of collusion with the Trump campaign. As Sherman put it, "I understand that a majority of our Democratic Caucus will want to wait until Special Counsel Robert Mueller completes his report, which I would hope will be issued in the next two to three months."

Pelosi, in an interview published Thursday morning, told TODAY's Savannah Guthrie that she wasn't ruling out Trump being indicted or impeached, calling it "an open discussion." But, she added: "We have to wait and see what happens with the Mueller report. We shouldn't be impeaching for a political reason, and we shouldn't avoid impeachment for a political reason. So we'll just have to see how it comes."

New Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Trump: Impeach the “motherfucker”

Some Democrats won’t even say the word impeachment. But newly sworn-in Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib went there, publicly, on Day One, calling President Donald Trump a “motherfucker” while she was at it.

At an event Thursday night hosted by progressive group MoveOn just hours after she became an official member of the House, Tlaib took aim at Trump.

“When your son looks at you and says, ‘Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.’ And I say, ‘Baby, they don’t’ because we’re gonna go in there and we’re gonna impeach the motherfucker,’” Tlaib said to raucous applause.

Tlaib’s words are in stark contrast to typical rhetoric from Democrats, a party known for avoiding conflict with campaign slogans such as “When they go low, we go high.” Earlier in the day, Tlaib co-authored an op-ed with constitutional law attorney John Bonifaz that also called for Trump’s impeachment.

“President Donald Trump is a direct and serious threat to our country. On an almost daily basis, he attacks our Constitution, our democracy, the rule of law and the people who are in this country. His conduct has created a constitutional crisis that we must confront now,” the op-ed said.

Clinton Crony Says Bernie Supporters Must Be Silenced For 2020 Primaries

Well, like it or not the dust has barely settled from the November midterms and the 2020 presidential race is already underway. ... NBC News has published an op-ed by Republican political strategist-turned Clinton advisor and Dem strategist David Brock titled “Bernie Sanders’ fans can’t be allowed to poison another Democratic primary with personal attacks — Bashing Beto O’Rourke (and every other Democrat) doesn’t help liberals’ cause in 2020. It only helps Trump.” The article explicitly blames Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump on supporters of Bernie Sanders who criticized her during the primary, and makes it clear that such criticisms must be forcefully and aggressively fought against this time around.

“I’m hardly the only political observer who blames Hillary Clinton’s general election defeat to Donald Trump in part on personal attacks on Clinton first made by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and his backers,” Brock’s article begins. “Those attacks from her left laid the groundwork for copycat attacks lobbed by Donald Trump — and, in the process, helped hand the Supreme Court to the right-wing for a generation.” Citing no evidence, Brock goes on to accuse journalists and social media users of staging a “coordinated effort” to “attack” Beto O’Rourke and other presidential hopefuls, as though coordination would be necessary for criticisms and questions to emerge about the voting records and campaign donations of public officials seeking the highest political office on the planet. The implication, of course, is that no criticisms of any kind should be leveled at Democratic presidential primary contestants, leaving narrative-shaping authority solely in the hands of the plutocratic media and beltway manipulators like David Brock.

It is unclear what “character attacks” Brock is claiming Sanders made; the entirety of criticisms leveled by Sanders and the overwhelming majority of his supporters were directed at the policy decisions Clinton made in her political career and the shady places she took money from. What is clear is that the pro-Hillary SuperPAC he is referring to was the infamous “Correct the Record” troll operation, which employed literal shills to deceitfully pose as grassroots Hillary supporters online whose job was to attack anyone who criticized her. This despicable tactic was incalculably disruptive to online political discourse in 2016, and Brock clearly wants to implement a far more aggressive version of his operation in the 2020 primaries. ...

If you want a quality illustration of what a manipulative sociopath David Brock is, contrast his obnoxious, dishonest accusatory screed with his open letter to Sanders at the beginning of 2017 titled “Dear Senator Sanders: I’m with You in the Fight Ahead”. Brock apologized for his harsh attacks on Sanders, gushed about the way Bernie “electrified millions” with his campaign and pledged to work with him to harness that energy against Trump. Brock wanted something from Sanders (control of his base in this case), so he smothered him in flattery; now people are criticizing Beto “Like Obama, only white” O’Rourke, and all of a sudden Sanders is back to being a red commie menace whose “character attacks” are to blame for Hillary Clinton’s loss. Brock has no relationship with truth beyond his ability to twist it to get things he wants.

Bid to discredit Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez with college dance video backfires

An attempt to humiliate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on the day she was sworn in as the youngest ever US Congresswoman has backfired impressively, prompting a huge outpouring of support for her. On Thursday a 30-second video was posted by a Twitter user called AnonymousQ, showing Ocasio-Cortez dancing on the roof of a building while in college.

In fact, the short clip was part of a longer video, made while she was an undergraduate at Boston University. In it, she and several other students dance on the rooftop of a university building to the song Lisztomania by Phoenix, in a mash-up of a dance from the Breakfast Club.

But instead of humiliating Ocasio-Cortez, who was elected to represent New York’s 14th congressional district in November, the video has bolstered her popularity, with many people on social media praising her for being joyful and having fun.

the evening greens

Charlie Brown berates Lucy once again for pulling away the football...

'They Failed Us Once Again': House Democrats Denounced for Dashing Hopes of Green New Deal

No subpoena power. No rule barring members from accepting fossil fuel money. No directive to craft the kind of visionary plan that science says is necessary to avert climate catastrophe.

With the mandate (pdf) for presumptive House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) Select Committee on the Climate Crisis finally available to the public, youth climate leaders highlighted these glaring omissions on Wednesday when they denounced the Democratic leadership's new panel as completely "toothless" and lacking the ambition needed to rapidly transition America's energy system away from fossil fuels.

"It's everything we feared," said Varshini Prakash, co-founder of the Sunrise Movement, the youth-led advocacy group that helped organize sit-ins at the congressional offices of Pelosi and other Democratic leaders to demand a Green New Deal Select Committee. "Democratic leaders had an opportunity to embrace young people's energy and back the Green New Deal, but they failed us once again," Prakash added. "This committee is toothless and weaker than the first Climate Select Committee from a decade ago, and it does not get us meaningfully closer to solving the climate crisis or fixing our broken economy."

Driven by the deep concern that Democrats would squander their majority power in the House by merely conducting more climate hearings and little else, progressive groups have urgently mobilized in recent weeks to pressure the party's leadership to pursue a more focused and ambitious objective: A committee specifically focused on developing Green New Deal legislation that would enact systemic energy and economic reforms in line with the latest climate science.

But, as the Sunrise Movement noted on Wednesday, Pelosi's new committee has "no mandate to create a plan" that would dramatically reduce carbon emissions with the necessary speed, nor does it have subpoena power that would compel fossil fuel executives to testify and hand over crucial documents. "The only reason to do this is to protect the corporate CEOs who have unlawfully suppressed information about the dangers of climate change to protect their own profits," Prakash said.

New Polling Shows House Democrats Who Won't Back Green New Deal Could Be Ousted by Progressives in 2020

In a signal that Democratic voters aren't satisfied with timid steps to address the human-made global climate crisis, new polling from Data for Progress—initially reported by HuffPost on Thursday—shows that incumbent congressional candidates in 2020 could be ousted by progressive primary challengers if they fail to back a Green New Deal.

Championed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and a growing collective of Democratic lawmakers and climate campaigners, a Green New Deal would combine efforts to curb global warming and create a more just economy through generating clean energy jobs and other initiatives. Such a deal, however, has been met with opposition from more conservative Democrats.

The youth-led Sunrise Movement, which has organized protests at congressional offices in recent weeks to encourage House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and other Democrats to support a Green New Deal, celebrated the new polling results in a tweet:

The movement has called on Pelosi to pursue bold climate action that aligns with the latest science, or to step aside so more ambitious lawmakers can take the lead. Pelosi, for her part, has pushed for a pay-go rule for the House that opponents say will hinder Medicare for All and a Green New Deal as well as a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis that critics denounce as a "toothless" stand-in for a committee dedicated to crafting such a deal.

Nearby galaxy set to collide with Milky Way, say scientists

As if battered post-Christmas finances, a looming disorderly Brexit and the prospect of a fresh nuclear arms race were not enough to dampen spirits, astronomers have declared that a nearby galaxy will slam into the Milky Way and could knock our solar system far into the cosmic void.

The unfortunate discovery was made after scientists ran computer simulations on the movement of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the many satellite galaxies that orbits the Milky Way. Rather than circling at a safe distance, or breaking free of the Milky Way’s gravitational pull, the researchers found the LMC is destined to clatter into the galaxy we call home.

At the moment, the LMC is estimated to be about 163,000 light years from the Milky Way and speeding away at 250 miles per second. But simulations by astrophysicists at Durham University show that the LMC will eventually slow down and turn back towards us, ultimately smashing into the Milky Way in about 2.5 billion years’ time.

While individual stars and planets are unlikely to collide, the arrival of a galaxy weighing as much as 250 billion suns will still wreak havoc. “The whole of the Milky Way will be shaken and the entire solar system could be ejected into outer space,” said Carlos Frenk, director of the Institute for Computational Cosmology at Durham. “If that happens, I don’t see how our descendants, if we have any, will be able to withstand it.”

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Clifton Chenier - The Things I Did For You

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Clifton Chenier - Think It Over

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Clifton Chenier - Wrap It Up

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Clifton Chenier - Hot Tamale Baby

Clifton Chenier - Hot Rod

18 users have voted.


The Aspie Corner's picture

And listening to the moron whine about Drumpf while giving him massive handjobs behind closed doors is hilarious. But don't worry, I'm sure Donelly, McCaskill and friends will have cushy lobbying jobs coming to them soon enough.

7 users have voted.

Modern education is little more than toeing the line for the capitalist pigs.

Guerrilla Liberalism won't liberate the US or the world from the iron fist of capital.

joe shikspack's picture

@The Aspie Corner

he is pretty pathetic.

"I've seen it happen time after time. When the Democratic candidate allows himself to be put on the defensive and starts apologizing for the New Deal and the fair Deal, and says he really doesn't believe in them, he is sure to lose. The people don't want a phony Democrat. If it's a choice between a genuine Republican, and a Republican in Democratic clothing, the people will choose the genuine article, every time; that is, they will take a Republican before they will a phony Democrat."

-- Harry S. Truman

3 users have voted.
detroitmechworks's picture

When we get anything OTHER than Neo-Liberal out of it, I'll believe that hype.

Till then, it's just the same old shit with various tans.

7 users have voted.

I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

joe shikspack's picture


heh, it's time to apply a logical fallacy description, i.e. a "distinction without a difference," when discussing diversity in the congress.

5 users have voted.
dance you monster's picture

. . . and those furloughed workers not being paid, wouldn't this seem to be a good time for a general strike? After all, the argument against such a thing was the damage it would do to the workers who can't afford to be unpaid. But now they -- or some of them -- are unpaid anyway. Wouldn't it be efficient to declare this the time we go to bat for government workers and support them by shutting the whole damn country down?

Who's in charge of the scheduling again?

9 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture

@dance you monster

great to see you! heh, all that needs to happen is that the portion of the government that provides services that the 1% rely upon heavily needs to shut down. things will get sorted out quickly once they get the idea that they really do need a government.

4 users have voted.
mimi's picture

Brock has no relationship with truth beyond his ability to twist it to get things he wants.

I remember Brock from a long time ago. He disgusted me then and disgusts me now.

Brock began his career as a right-wing investigative reporter during the 1990s.[4] He wrote the book The Real Anita Hill and the Troopergate story, which led to Paula Jones filing a lawsuit against Bill Clinton. In the late-1990s, he switched sides, aligning himself with the Democratic Party and in particular with Bill and Hillary Clinton.

Looks like he is switching sides again, attacking Bernie Sanders from the right.
Sicko character, imo, like his twin 'brother', a manipulating sack of ... (oh, friends say I should be more diplomatic ... boy it's so hard to do)

I am glad Lawrence Lessig chimes in saying the Trump's border wall demand is constitutionally illegitimate. I trust the guy though most people tried to ridicule him in the past and marginalized him.

Oh, btw. if you want to distract yourself a little bit and have the time, here is a lengthy article about the Germana Capital Berlin and its diversity. Just for those folks who believe that diversity can only bring about good things, it may be a little 'come down to earth' experience, so take this is just a suggestion to get a better idea of the German Capital.

The German Capital at a Crossroads. This came along through a series about Berlin in the 1920ies on German TV, which might have triggered the article about the current Capital Berlin. It is just for some long odd hours in which you want to read something else.

Good Evening, all. I hope you survive the shutdown and the weather, get yourself cozy in your homes and don't get crazy over the news. Better schmooze around with something musically cheezy. Any suggestion about something schmoozy and cheezy in musical terms?

7 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


heh, schmoozy and cheezy?

another flavor of cheese:

rotten cheese:

3 users have voted.
mimi's picture

@joe shikspack
the strangers in the night, before I fell asleep over my laptop. My mommy always told me not to trust strangers, and especially not those who crawl up in nightly hours...

Now I am awake now and need something uplifting and trustworthy and throw those cheezy types under my bed and ... poop on them. Oh, I am losing it again. Sorry. I need sunshine. This weather here is so depressing. Not cold, not warm, not rainy, but nothing but a grey soup of a sky.

3 users have voted.
Azazello's picture

Richard Falk, Counterpunch

5 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


an interesting article, thanks!

i liked this part:

If Trump stumbles onto a security path that ends such interventions in the global south we should celebrate the result, even if we withhold praise from Trump himself. Beyond this, we should not be too quick to condemn his openness to a cooperative relationship with Russia if it helps the world avoid a second, more dangerous cold war that it can ill afford at this time of climate change. Trump might not know exactly what he is doing but bypassing Europe for a geopolitical bargain with Moscow might make realist sense under the historical circumstances, and realists themselves need to wake up to this benign possibility.

Of course, my wish for an end to militarism, nuclearism, and foreign interventions may be coloring my views, and is blindfolding me with respect to the dangers and risks that some associate with Trump’s march to the apocalypse. I acknowledge this, but I am also convinced that the conventional candidates of either political party would never in a thousand years pull the rug out from under this globalized militarism that could never tolerate a peaceful future for humanity.

and this part, if it pisses off centrist liberals is a worthy effort, though ...

If Trump were to stay the Syrian withdrawal course, not a likely prospect, it might not be so easy to vote him out of office with a clear conscience. This suggestion is meant as a provocation to liberals and establishmentarians, but it does call attention to the likely frightful foreclosure of peaceful options for American voters and the likely choices in 2020.

6 users have voted.
mimi's picture

4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Meanwhile, federal officials are proposing to eliminate whatever mild restrictions remain against indefinite detention of children.

Just remember folks. What happens to laws for how we treat our immigrants can also be used against us some day. This is a very slippery slope. The government has already exceeded its authority for removing our constitutional rights in my opinion when Bush passed the patriot act and then added the military commissions act. Obama passed the NDAA that allows the president to have the military arrest people and hold them indefinitely without charges or access to a lawyer or a trial. Secret courts making secret laws should not be allowed in a democratic country, but then we're not one are we? How many more secret laws have been passed without our knowledge? Guess we'll find out when we break them. The ACLU sued Obama because the law was too broad. I wrote about this last year and when it was passed. Anyone interested in knowing how bad this is search for the NDAA. Rex 84? The real reason FEMA exists?

Trump is stripping people of their citizenship if they have committed crimes or they lied on their paperwork, but this didn't start with Trump. Oh no. This started during Obama's tenure and for now it's being done to people who mostly came from Central America, but where else could it go? Another slippery slope

7 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


"what was that whooshing noise and why are we going around in circles?"

4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture

Agreement will put smugglers and traffickers out of business and protect vulnerable populations.”

Kids are being abused and molested in the detention centers right now because the people who work there don't have to go through background checks. Two kids that we know of have died at border patrol centers because of the conditions that they are held in and because they are not being checked or paid enough attention to when they get there. For profit detention centers don't have people's best interests at heart. This has been seen time after time. And when the next kid dies? Blame the parents of course for trying to 'sneak' into the country even though people are trying to present at the border which is legal.

Of course the democrats are in league with the republicans. I'm betting that Nancy will fold and give Trump the money for the wall. Why? Because they are being built by big corporations and banks. Who cares if it destroys wildlife and the environment when there's money to be made?

Are the democrats really going to be investigating Trump's detention of children like they said they are? If so it's just more kabuki BS.

6 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


Are the democrats really going to be investigating Trump's detention of children like they said they are? If so it's just more kabuki BS.

even if the democrats were in earnest (and i would guess that there are a couple that really do have some sort of personal investment in human decency) it will take so long to make the sausage machinery function that, well, i shudder to think what's ahead.

4 users have voted.
Pluto's Republic's picture


...paying for it — the world will get to see this and think about it and gain a better read on what the US is all about. That is always a plus.

I remember standing on the Great Wall of China, and peering over the northern edge. I thought, "I could totally figure out how scale this thing." It should come as no surprise that a couple of people working together with the right equipment can scramble up and over any wall. China didn't build the Great Wall to keep a person here and there out. That would be silly. They built the Great Wall to prevent an army from staging an invasion.

Trump's wall is folly. However, there are really good technologies in space and on the surface that, together, can spot a breech between two towers on any terrain. A series of towers would make the US look a lot less stupid and scared than a clunky and wasteful wall. I suspect his advisors know that.

I must agree that building a superfluous wall has to be a money pump for select crony corporations, who no doubt own both parties. So, it's a monument to ignorance and corruption, just like the wars.

8 users have voted.

The purpose of a writer is to keep civilization from destroying itself.
– Albert Camus
snoopydawg's picture

@Pluto's Republic

It should come as no surprise that a couple of people working together with the right equipment can scramble up and over any wall.


I must agree that building a superfluous wall has to be a money pump for select crony corporations, who no doubt own both parties.


BoA - Citibank - GE - Halliburton - Boeing - etc ......

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

WindDancer13's picture

Is it keeping him in or keeping him out?

Reminds me of the movie posters for those old monster films.

5 users have voted.

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.--Aristotle
If there is no struggle there is no progress.--Frederick Douglass

joe shikspack's picture


and will it get here before winter?

5 users have voted.
enhydra lutris's picture

tonight was wonderful. I especially enjoyed Caitlin's article. Clifton Chenier, of course, makes everything all right.

Have a great one.

6 users have voted.

That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

joe shikspack's picture

@enhydra lutris

sorry to hear about the root canal, i hope you feel better soon.

have a good weekend!

4 users have voted.
Raggedy Ann's picture

A little late to the party, but had the granddaughter over for supper.

Looking forward to going back and reading the news. But first, David Brock needs to shut his pie hole.

Have a beautiful evening and weekend, folks! Pleasantry

5 users have voted.

Women are human beings, not prey.
(I forgot where I read it although it might have been in The Intercept)

joe shikspack's picture

@Raggedy Ann

yay, grandkids! they are one of the best ideas that the fsm ever had. Smile

have a wonderful weekend and try not to think much about that sleazy weasel, brock.

5 users have voted.
divineorder's picture

We trouble shot and repaired our electrical wiring problem our damn selves.

While we were doing that Matt Stoller got down in the weeds on PayGo.

5 users have voted.

A truth of the nuclear age/climate change: we can no longer have endless war and survive on this planet. Oh sh*t.

joe shikspack's picture


glad to hear that you guys got your electrons all moving in the right direction without having to put up with any steenking badgers.

thanks for the stoller piece, i'll give it a look over this weekend after my eyeballs get some rest.

5 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture



Krugman said that this is stupid and yet some of the kos kids were defending Nancy for doing it. Good grief. Just what is it going to take for people to wake the f'ck up and see the democrats for who they are?

BTW did you see my reply to your comment last night? I thought that was a good article.

7 users have voted.

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

dystopian's picture

Just a couple quickies from subjects:

>>> “These are places with a large number of youth who just don’t know what the military is about.” ..

Could it be that the youth noticed Viet Nam, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lybia, Syria, etc., stop me anytime, and in fact do know what the military is about and that is why they aren't signing up? Maybe they heard of Smedley Butler?

>>>Then on this: Israel vows to 'worsen' conditions for Palestinian prisoners...

Israel is torturing the Palestinians so badly, so openly, and are so intent on winning that Gaza battle, they have lost the war of world opinion.

>>> US House Democrats reaffirm right-wing program of austerity, bipartisanship

That sure took long, must have been all the resistance?

Have a great weekend!

5 users have voted.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.
both - Albert Einstein

joe shikspack's picture


i agree with you completely. heh, it took the corporate dems no time at all to render all of that progressive talk nugatory. one vote and the answer is, "you'll take nothing and like it."

5 users have voted.
lotlizard's picture

such that an extreme right-wing, ultra-nationalist government of a foreign country has been able to get anti-BDS loyalty-oath laws passed in so many states.

4 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


to protest college students who are pushing their Russia Gate nonsense? Or any country that is being criticized?

Let's substitute Vlad for Bibi here and see how it goes over.

The Israeli prime minister had traveled to Washington, D.C. to attack the U.S. president from the floor of the House of Representatives

This sure took lots of balls to do that didn't it? I wonder how many senate democrats snuck into the house? Schumer was there I bet.

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

lotlizard's picture


1 user has voted.