The Evening Blues - 11-16-23
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features country blues harmonica player Hammie Nixon. Enjoy!
Hammie Nixon - My Babe
"America’s so-called moral authority has been a fiction for decades, I would say since the 1945 victories, but it is now in something close to free-fall collapse. Even the Israelis, in a weird, upside-down paradox, now question America’s right to criticize the indecencies and inhumanities of others. Back off with your “humanitarian pauses,” they say. You killed more Iraqis than we are killing Palestinians. Two morally bankrupt regimes bickering: What’ll they think of next?"
-- Patrick Lawrence
News and Opinion
Worth taking the time to click and fully read:
Bombing hospitals was, just a few days ago, an undeclared red line the Israel Defense Forces dared not cross without provoking international disgust and condemnation. At writing, the IDF is bombing hospitals and, I read, its soldiers are shooting patients, invalids among them, as they attempt to evacuate buildings soon to be demolished.
There is disgust and condemnation now, and they find expression not only on the streets of many cities but also in governing circles. Axios reported Monday that an internal State Department memo, signed by 100 officials at State and its aid agency, USAID, accuses President Biden of lying about Israel’s military campaign in Gaza and of complicity in war crimes. On Tuesday, The New York Times put the signatories of another letter to Biden at 400 representing 40 government departments and agencies, including the National Security Council — this in addition to an open letter to Secretary of State Blinken signed by more than 1,000 Agency for International Development employees. So far as I know, this measure of dissent in policy and governing circles is more or less unprecedented.
Beyond our purple mountains and fruited plains, the Irish Dáil will vote this week on expelling the Israeli ambassador, throwing Israel out of a European Union trade accord for breaching its human-rights clauses, and—a Sinn Féin motion—referring Israel to the International Criminal Court. Emmanuel Macron came out last weekend calling for a ceasefire, the first Western leader to do so. Given Biden’s defiant refusal even to consider asking Israel to accept a ceasefire, the French president has implicitly issued a rejection of Israeli violence and the U.S. policy supporting it.
We cannot make too much of events such as these, but we must not make too little of them, either. These are signs on the surface of much deeper movements a few meters down in our civilization’s soil. Things are gradually coming apart in consequence of Israel’s savagery and America’s abetment of it, at home in the U.S., in the Atlantic world altogether and certainly between the West and the world beyond it. Now it is time to look forward to see what we can see of the world to come.
Christopher Lydon, who produces Radio Open Source for WBUR in Boston, suggested over the weekend we have reached “a hinge in history—outcomes wildly uncertain.” He made this remark at the start of a long interview with Chas Freeman, the retired ambassador for whom I share with Lydon great admiration. Freeman agreed with the hinge-of-history thought. So do I. All is changing, changing utterly, if you will let me borrow and bend Yeats’s famous line. ...
I read here and there in many disparate places the remark that the U.S. “has gone too far this time.” That is how Ajamu Baraka, who runs the Black Alliance for Peace, put it the other day. Every commentator making this argument is pithily to the point. The U.S. has gone too far countless times since assuming its imperial pretensions, of course, from the Spanish–American War onward. But we are watching genocidal savagery on television once again, as we watched hamlets burn and rice paddies run red during the Vietnam war. If the U.S. never fully recovered from its merciless violence in Indochina, the damage will be permanent this time. The obscenity it sponsors at the hands of a crazed apartheid regime is simply too full-frontal. Real-time inhumanity will prove America’s undoing, to say nothing of apartheid Israel’s. ... “The world’s patience with us and our arrogance and presumption is coming to an end,” Chas notes. “We are going to have no choice but to recognize that we are one great power among other great powers. We are one civilization among multiple civilizations.”
The most despicable thing about the way Israel supporters smear Israel’s critics as anti-semites is that they are exploiting a very healthy impulse to advance a profoundly sick impulse. They knowingly exploit the fact that the further to the left someone is on the the political spectrum the more likely they are to (A) support Palestinian rights and (B) be very receptive to any suggestion that they might be acting in a racially insensitive way.
My followers who are on the right side of the political spectrum always have melodramatic conniptions whenever I say this, but there is a lot of value in learning about the role racial inequality plays in the injustices of our society and getting real with ourselves about where our own racial circumstances fit in with those unjust power dynamics. It’s a very healthy impulse to look within yourself and figure out if there’s anything in you as an individual that feeds into the racial injustices of our society, whether you‘re aware of it at first or not. This is especially true of white people, since racial injustices tend to benefit us in this society.
The further someone is toward the left end of the spectrum, the more likely they are to respond to an accusation of racism by stopping in their tracks and inquiring deeply into whether the accusation might have some truth to it. If the accusation is that you harbor the same kind of racism that gave rise to the Holocaust — one of the worst mass atrocities in all of human history — then you are all the more likely to stop and take the accusation seriously.
This is a healthy impulse. If everyone took seriously their responsibility to expunge everything in them that feeds into the injustices of our world, we would have peace and harmony on earth very quickly. But this impulse gets exploited in the most odiously cynical way imaginable to defend the interests of a murderous and tyrannical government whose very existence is premised on racism, apartheid, ethnic cleansing and abuse.
Have you ever noticed that it’s never the actual anti-semites who get attacked as anti-semites? Nowadays it’s very seldom the assholes saying Jews rule the world and are the source of society’s ills who are inundated with such accusations; supporters of Israel tend to more or less leave them alone. The ones who get slandered as anti-semites are people like Jeremy Corbyn — leftists who’ve dedicated their entire lives to anti-racism, whose only actual offense is believing that Palestinians are human beings and should be treated as such.
In fact actual anti-semites are some of Israel’s strongest allies. The lion’s share of forceful support for Israel in the United States comes not from Jews but from Christian Zionists who support Israel because they believe it will bring Jesus back so he can damn all non-Christians to eternal hellfire. Televangelist John Hagee, who believes Hitler was sent by God to help create Israel, had a prominent speaking spot at Tuesday’s “March for Israel” in Washington DC.
While people who hate Jews so much they want them to writhe in eternal hellfire are warmly embraced as allies of convenience by Israel and its supporters, healthy leftists who oppose racism in all its forms are attacked by Israel apologists as Nazis and Jew-haters. This is because their actions are not designed to protect Jews or reduce anti-semitism — their actions are to facilitate the strategic objectives of the Israeli government and its allies.
Really what’s happening in Gaza right now isn’t about Jews or Judaism at all; it’s about using violent force to take land and resources away from an indigenous population, as history has seen happen time and time again in situations that had nothing to do with Jews. It’s a profoundly unhealthy impulse that’s been causing immense human suffering for centuries, and people who’ve noticed the same patterns in Israel that they’ve seen in all the other settler-colonial projects over the last 500 years are being shouted down and bullied into staying silent using some of the most unethical manipulations ever devised.
All you Israel apologists who are getting frustrated that nobody's buying your "criticism of Israel is antisemitic" routine anymore can thank the smear campaign against Jeremy Corbyn a few years ago. It opened a lot of eyes to how cynically that accusation is used.
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) October 17, 2023
The good news is that it doesn’t seem to be working as much anymore. People are gradually becoming aware that accusations of anti-semitism are used by Israel apologists to stagnate and stifle support for Palestinian rights, and are beginning to take those accusations a lot less seriously. There’s only so many times you can watch dishonest smear campaigns against good-faith leftists before you start to figure out that you’re being manipulated.
As with most problems, the solution to this one is to expand consciousness. The more people become aware of the way accusations of anti-semitism are cynically used to shut down pro-Palestine sentiments around the world, the less power those methods will have. That doesn’t mean we stop treating real anti-semitism like a real problem or that we become less sensitive to racial injustice; it simply means we see what’s being done in this specific instance and start calling it what it is.
Six weeks after the start of the war in Gaza, the UN security council has come together to back a resolution calling for “urgent extended humanitarian pauses for [a] sufficient number of days to allow aid access” to the embattled territory. The vote late on Wednesday overcame an impasse which saw four unsuccessful attempts to adopt a resolution.
Malta drafted the resolution, which calls for humanitarian corridors across the Gaza Strip and urges the release of all hostages held by Hamas.
The US and the UK, two potentially veto-wielding powers, abstained on the resolution on the grounds that although they supported the emphasis on humanitarian relief, they could not give their full support because it contained no explicit criticism of Hamas. Russia also abstained on the grounds that it made no mention of an immediate ceasefire, its top imperative.
The resolution was passed with 12 votes in favour, and is the first UN resolution on the Israel-Palestine conflict since 2016.
The Israeli foreign ministry said it rejected the resolution, prompting the Palestinian representative, Riyad Mansour, to ask the UN security council members what they intended to do in the face of that defiance.
Gilad Erdan, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, has told the United Nations that the just-adopted resolution calling for humanitarian pauses in the fighting in Gaza, and the creation of more humanitarian aid corridors, is “detached from the reality on the ground”.
In an address to the security council effectively announcing Israel would not abide by the resolution, but was already “doing everything possible to improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza.”
In justifying Israel's invasion of Gaza's Shifa Hospital, the Pentagon has essentially admitted that its own intelligence assessment asserting that Hamas military sites are concealed beneath the hospital is nothing more than recycled Israeli propaganda.
Sabrina Singh, the… pic.twitter.com/paEF5u8pf3
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) November 15, 2023
Three hours before dawn, witnesses and doctors inside Gaza’s largest hospital reported that Israeli tanks had entered the sprawling medical compound on the western edge of Gaza City. “We can see them pointing the guns of the tanks toward the hospital … they are inside the complex with the tanks,” Khader Al Za’anoun, a reporter for the Palestinian news agency Wafa, told CNN. ...
Witnesses who spoke to the BBC and AFP said Israeli soldiers used loudspeakers to demand that all males aged between 16 and 40 leave every part of the hospital complex other than the surgical and emergency wings and enter the hospital courtyard. “All men 16 years and above, raise your hands,” a soldier shouted in accented Arabic, according to a journalist speaking to AFP. “Exit the building towards the courtyard and surrender,” the soldier ordered.
About 1,000 Palestinian males, their hands above their heads, were soon led into the vast hospital courtyard, some of them stripped naked by Israeli soldiers checking them for weapons or explosives, the journalist said. Israel said its troops had killed militants in a clash outside but once inside there had been no fighting. The Israeli army released video showing soldiers carrying boxes labelled “baby food” and “medical supplies” ...
Omar Zaqout, who works in the emergency room at al-Shifa, told Al Jazeera that Israeli soldiers had detained and assaulted some men who had taken refuge there. “[They] did not bring any aid or supplies, they only brought terror and death,” he said.
The IDF described the raid as “a precise and targeted operation against Hamas in a specified area in the Shifa hospital, based on intelligence information and an operational necessity.” ... The IDF said in a briefing that soldiers found “weapons and other terror infrastructure,” at al-Shifa, and that they had seen “concrete evidence that Hamas terrorists used the Shifa hospital as a terror headquarters,” which they intended to publish later.
Hamas said the IDF’s claims were “nothing but a continuation of the lies and cheap propaganda, through which [Israel] is trying to give justification for its crime aimed at destroying the health sector in Gaza”.
Western officials: Israel obeys the rules of war
Israeli officials: Respect us or we'll kill your civilians
Western officials: It's sad civilians are accidentally dying
Israeli officials: We kill them on purpose
Western officials: It's a tragedy
Israeli officials: It's deliberate https://t.co/kCcAfIaBNK
— Caitlin Johnstone (@caitoz) November 11, 2023
Israel faced an unprecedented wave of international condemnation after its troops entered the Shifa hospital complex in Gaza, while the UN and aid agencies expressed concern about the impact of the raid on staff and patients. The scale and virulence of the global condemnation from Arab and western governments raised questions about how much longer Israel can continue with its offensive in the face of waning international support. ...
The UN spoke of carnage in Gaza, and as the pressure rose during the day, Israel relented by announcing it would allow an unlimited number of aid convoys through the Rafah crossing on the Egyptian border. Aid convoys have been limited to as few as 30 trucks a day when the UN said it needed hundreds to relieve starvation.
Earlier on Wednesday, Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, led the most unbridled criticism of Israel, calling for its leaders to be tried for war crimes at the international court of justice in The Hague. ...
The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, had earlier enraged Israel by calling on its forces to stop “killing babies”. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, insisted the west could not recourse to double standards, and said: “We condemn with the greatest firmness all bombings of civilians, in particular of civilian infrastructure which must be protected under our international law and humanitarian law.”
Up against what one Palestinian diplomat described as 1 million citizen journalists in Gaza, Israel is under pressure internationally to produce convincing evidence that the basement of the hospital was being used as a Hamas HQ, as it has claimed. Troops had found weapons and “terror infrastructure” at one specific location within the hospital, a senior IDF official said. Hamas said the claim was a “blatant lie”. With tensions so high, Israel will struggle to be believed in some countries.
Eight months before the Biden administration approved a massive arms deal for Israel amid its war in Gaza, President Joe Biden signed a directive prohibiting such deals for countries likely to use the weapons to attack civilian targets or direct violence against children.
Last week, multiple news organizations reported that the Biden administration approved a $320 million deal for precision-guided bomb equipment for Israel as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government continues to bombard civilian targets in Gaza. The Israeli military’s siege has reportedly killed more than 10,000 Palestinians, including more than 4,000 children.
The Biden administration’s arms transfer decision — and its concurrent push for billions of dollars of additional arms sales to Israel — came less than a year after Biden issued a formal order to federal agencies forbidding weapons transfers to countries where it is “more likely than not” that the weapons will be used to engage in “attacks intentionally directed against civilian objects or civilians” or used to commit “serious acts of violence against children.”
The Secretary of State is the first department head listed on the Biden directive restricting arms transfers — and yet, the State Department approved the multimillion-dollar weapons deal, which was first reported by The New York Times. ...
The tension between Biden’s February directive and his administration’s new arms transfers comes as the White House now asks lawmakers for legislation authorizing the administration to sell Israel up to $3.5 billion worth of military arms and services without Congress’ approval.
The powerful lobby group American Israel Public Affairs Committee is expected to spend nine figures in a bid to unseat over half a dozen progressive U.S. lawmakers who have been critical of Israeli human rights crimes in Palestine, Slate reported Wednesday.
Slate politics writer Alex Sammon wrote that "close watchers now expect AIPAC to spend at least $100 million in 2024 Democratic primaries, largely trained on eliminating incumbent Squad members from their seats."
Sammon said that Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Cori Bush (D-Mo.), Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.), and Summer Lee (D-Pa.)—"the most outspoken and unapologetically leftist contingent of the Democratic Party in national office"—are among AIPAC's top targets.
"The price of defending apartheid keeps going up," quipped Palestinian American writer and political analyst Yousef Munayyer in response to the report.
1 PAC promising to spend 100 MILLION dollars against 5 working class, Black & brown reps in working class districts...is why we can't have a representative democracy.
Idk what if we had governing that reflected our community's needs instead of AIPAC's? https://t.co/eqd9qWipMh
— Summer Lee (@SummerForPA) November 15, 2023
Ohio political activist Nina Turner wrote on social media: "This is anti-Blackness. Period."
Tlaib—the only Palestinian American member of Congress—has accused Israel of genocide for killing and maiming tens of thousands of civilians in Gaza and forcibly displacing nearly three-quarters of the besieged strip's people. Many experts concur with her characterization.
Tlaib, Omar, Bush, and a handful of other Democratic lawmakers have also called Israel an apartheid state, an assessment shared by a growing number of rights groups, international figures, and even former Israeli government officials.
The speaker of the House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, has delivered his verdict on the separation of church and state: it is a “misnomer”.
The second-in-line to the presidency informed Americans on Tuesday that their time-honored conception of one of the founding principles of the country was a “misunderstanding”. Speaking to CNBC’s Squawk Box, he tried to turn the conventional wisdom about the founders’ intentions on its head and claimed what they really wanted was to stop government interfering with religion, not the other way around.
“The separation of church and state is a misnomer,” the speaker said in an interview with the TV channel from the US Capitol. “People misunderstand it. Of course, it comes from a phrase that was in a letter that Jefferson wrote. It’s not in the constitution.”
Johnson was referring to Thomas Jefferson’s letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut, written in 1802 when the third president was in the White House. It makes clear that the founding fathers subscribed to a powerful separation of church and state, which they enshrined in the establishment clause of the first amendment.
Johnson’s contentious remarks fall in line with years of effort on his part to bring Christianity into the center of American politics. The New York Times has dubbed him the first Christian nationalist to hold the powerful position of speaker.
The Muscogee (Creek) Nation filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the city of Tulsa, Oklahoma, arguing that police are continuing to ticket Native American drivers within the tribe’s reservation boundaries, despite a recent federal appeals court ruling they lacked jurisdiction to do so.
The tribe filed the lawsuit in federal court in Tulsa against the city; the mayor, GT Bynum; the chief of police, Wendell Franklin; and the city attorney, Jack Blair.
The litigation is the latest clash in Oklahoma over tribal sovereignty since the US supreme court’s landmark 2020 ruling, dubbed McGirt, that the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s sprawling reservation, which includes much of Tulsa, remains intact. That ruling has since been expanded by lower courts to include several other Native American reservations covering essentially the eastern half of the state.
Since that ruling, Tulsa has been referring felony and criminal misdemeanor offenses by Native Americans within Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s boundaries to the tribe for prosecution, but has declined to refer traffic offenses, according to the lawsuit.
“Tulsa’s prosecution of Indians for conduct occurring within the Creek Reservation constitutes an ongoing violation of federal law and irreparably harms the Nation’s sovereignty by subjecting Indians within the Creek Reservation to laws and a criminal justice system other than the laws and system maintained by the Nation,” the suit states.
Donald Trump has filed a motion for a mistrial in a New York court, alleging the judge overseeing the $250m fraud case is biased. Trump’s lawyers are asking the New York judge Arthur Engoron for a mistrial given “bias” and “improper co-judging” on the bench.
“In this case the evidence of apparent and actual bias is tangible and overwhelming,” Trump’s lawyers wrote in the motion. “Only the grant of a mistrial can salvage what is left of the rule of law.”
The fraud case brought by New York attorney general, Letitia James, accuses the Trump Organization of falsely inflating the value of its properties in order to obtain favorable loans.
Trump’s lawyers are still waiting to hear back on an appeal of Engoron’s pre-trial summary judgment, which found Trump guilty of fraud and revoked his New York business licenses, essentially ending his ability to conduct business in the state. Because this is a bench trial with no jury, Engoron is the sole presider of the case.
Given that Engoron is the one who will rule on the mistrial, which is blatantly criticizing his conduct on the court, he will likely strike down the motion.
The state oil company of the United Arab Emirates, whose CEO will preside over imminent UN climate negotiations, has the largest net-zero-busting expansion plans of any company in the world, according to new data.
Sultan Al Jaber is the chief executive of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc) and president of the Cop28 summit, which begins on 30 November. The researchers behind the new data said Adnoc’s huge planned expansion of oil and gas production was a clear conflict of interest and they said his position was “ridiculous”.
At Cop28, nations will attempt to agree to cut fossil fuel use and triple renewable energy. The summit comes at the end of a year in which global temperatures have soared, intense impacts of extreme weather have wrecked lives and there have been repeated warnings that the world already has plans to exploit far more fossil fuel reserves than can safely be burned. ...
The UN warned last week that fossil fuel producers were planning expansions that would blow the planet’s carbon budget twice over. Experts called the plans “insanity” and said they “throw humanity’s future into question”. A long series of scientific studies has concluded that most existing oil, gas and coal reserves need to remain in the ground to tackle the climate emergency but major fossil fuel companies and petrostates have yet to stop exploring for more.
The abundance of climate-heating gases in the atmosphere reached record highs in 2022, the UN’s World Meteorological Organization (WMO) has reported.
The WMO said “there is no end in sight to the rising trend”, which is largely driven by the burning of fossil fuels.
The concentration of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas, is now 50% higher than before the start of the Industrial Revolution.
The Earth has not experienced similar levels of CO2 for 3-5 million years, when the global temperature was 2-3C warmer and sea level was 10-20 metres higher than today, the WMO said.
The concentrations of the two other key greenhouse gases, methane and nitrous oxide, also grew, according to the report, published ahead of the UN’s Cop28 climate summit, which begins on 30 November.
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Hammie Nixon - You're so Fine
Hammie Nixon - She Keeps Me Worried and Bothered All the Time
Hammie Nixon - Viola Lee Blues
Son Bonds & Hammie Nixon - All Night Long
Hammie Nixon - Brownsville Blues
Hammie Nixon - Tappin' That Thing
Sleepy John Estes & Hammie Nixon - Harlem Bound
Son Bonds & Hammie Nixon - Trouble Trouble Blue
Hammie Nixon - You're Gonna Look Like a Monkey When You Get Old