The Evening Blues - 11-8-17
Hey! Good Evening!
This evening's music features r&b singer Ben E. King. Enjoy!
Ben E. King - Stand By Me
“I have said it before and I will say it again: Impeachment is off the table.”
-- Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif
News and Opinion
So then, this is what "The Resistance" is all about, strutting around in their pussy hats, screaming real loud, and, ultimately doing absolutely freaking nothing. Keep on mouthing those empty threats, Democrat losers!
The California Democrat left the door open to the possibility, however, saying that if ongoing investigations into Russian election meddling were to turn up any sort of concrete criminal evidence, lawmakers might reconsider the matter. "If that's there, perhaps it will come out in these investigations" she said.
"I believe that whatever we do, we have a responsibility to first and foremost to unify the nation," Pelosi said Sunday.
Bwahahahahahaha!!!!! And another load of bullshit is tossed out to the hopeful masses whose hopes (as usual) will be squashed by lesser of two evils congressworms:
Tonight, Democrats got a preview of what it would feel like to take back the House and put the party in a position to check or maybe even checkmate Trump. That's bad news for Republicans.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) November 8, 2017
“Resistance” hero and lead Russiagate cheerleader Keith Olbermann was recently featured on The View, wherein he sincerely and unironically stated that John McCain is his favorite politician, that he wants Mike Pence to be president, and that he feels he owes George W Bush an apology for how oppositional he was during his administration. Many American progressives remember Olbermann not as the flag-swaddled screaming nutcase that he has become today, but as a stable voice of sanity that they clung to like a life raft during the frenzied psychosis of the Bush years. In the span of about thirty seconds, Olbermann completely invalidated all of that. ...
Keith Olbermann’s fellow “Resistance” pundits are currently beating their chests and howling triumphantly over the election results last night. They’re not putting on this show because they’re legitimately orgasmic over a few state and local assembly seats changing hands, they’re putting on this show because there’s been a lot of doubt expressed that the anti-Russia, anti-Trump drum that they’ve been beating for the last year is a worthy strategy. They’re all telling rank-and-file Democrats, “Look! It’s working! Keep doing the Russia thing! Keep doing the Trump thing!”
Meanwhile, the Democratic party’s approval rating has hit a quarter-century low of 37 percent, which is equal to Trump’s. The drum of the new cold war keeps beating, and tensions continue to mount.
Nikki Neocon is barking mad that Iran still exists:
The United States accused Iran on Tuesday of supplying Yemen’s Houthi rebels with a missile that was fired into Saudi Arabia in July and called for the United Nations to hold Tehran accountable for violating two U.N. Security Council resolutions.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said information released by Saudi Arabia showed the missile fired in July was an Iranian Qiam, which she described as “a type of weapon that had not been present in Yemen before the conflict.”
Saudi-led forces, which back the government in neighboring Yemen, have been targeting the Iran-allied Houthis in a more than two-year war. Saudi Arabia’s crown prince on Tuesday described Iran’s supply of rockets to the Houthis as “direct military aggression” that could be an act of war.
Haley said that by providing weapons to the Houthis, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had violated two U.N. resolutions on Yemen and Iran. She said a missile shot down over Saudi Arabia on Saturday “may also be of Iranian origin.”
“We encourage the United Nations and international partners to take necessary action to hold the Iranian regime accountable for these violations,” Haley said. It was not immediately clear what action the United States was calling for.
Saudi Arabia is more aggressively confronting its rival Iran on multiple fronts. It’s a policy that risks sharpening several conflicts in the Middle East, even though so far it has failed to score any successes in stemming Tehran’s influence. The bolder steps are largely seen as the work of the son of King Salman, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has consolidated his power. Under his leadership, the kingdom has shown a readiness to shake up the region, launching a military campaign in Yemen against rebels its sees as Iranian proxies and sparking a confrontation with Qatar in part over ties with Tehran.
Still, Iran has been able to use wars in Iraq and Syria to build a bridge of alliances stretching from its border to the Mediterranean.
The question is whether the Saudis will push even harder against Iran — and what will happen if they do. So far, the kingdom’s policies appear to have the full support of U.S. President Donald Trump. Though Saudi Arabia said it reserved the right to respond over the Yemeni missile, it is unlikely to take direct military action against Iran. Direct military action would risk huge destabilization in the Gulf and beyond, disrupting oil shipments vital to Saudi Arabia and its allies. The kingdom is unlikely to act without a green light from Washington, where the policy has been to avoid direct confrontation with Iran.
The House leadership is fighting on the side of al-Qaeda. Worth a full read.
House Concurrent Resolution 81 (H.Con.Res.81) is sponsored by Representatives, Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-NC), Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.), Thomas Massie (R-KY), and 39 other lawmakers. The resolution commands an end to U.S. participation in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. The sponsors of this resolution contend that such participation, which began in March 2015, was never authorized under the War Powers Act of 1973. Per the War Powers Act, any congressman can pose a legal challenge and is guaranteed a floor vote on the issue. This is known as a privileged resolution.
On November 1st, the night before the vote was scheduled to take place, House leadership swiftly pushed through a Rules Committee vote, denying the resolution’s privileged status. Thus, preventing the guaranteed floor vote. What was their justification? Apparently, the House Rules Committee feels that the war in Yemen has yet to ‘rise to a level’ where the War Powers Act is applicable.
After preventing the vote on H.Con.Res.81, the House Leadership has said it shall permit a ‘compromise’ resolution on the war in Yemen. The debate, scheduled for the week of November 13th, will discuss the legality of U.S. involvement in the war. The vote will be non-binding.
Five peace activist groups, heavily engaged in promoting the resolution, said just after the Rules Committee vote:
“We remind the House leadership that under the War Powers Resolution of 1973,
“‘introduction of United States Armed Forces ’includes the assignment of member of such armed forces to command, coordinate, participate in the movement of, or accompany the regular or irregular military forces of any foreign country or government when such military forces are engaged…’
U.S. refueling of Saudi-UAE planes bombing Houthi targets in Yemen meets that definition.'”
Since U.S. president Donald Trump announced his new Afghan strategy in the summer of 2017, escalating U.S. air strikes have allegedly claimed several civilian lives in Herat and Logar provinces. The coalition and the Afghan government have acknowledged the Logar and Herat incidents and have launched investigations into both attacks.
The Pentagon reported that its forces expended 751 aerial munitions on Taliban, Islamic State and Khorasan Group targets in September 2017 — a 50-percent increase over August. ...
Air strikes have contributed to steadily rising civilian casualties in 2017. In its third quarter report, the U.N. mission in Afghanistan reiterated its concern over continued increases in civilian casualties from aerial attacks, particularly among women and children.
“During the first nine months of 2017, the mission documented 466 civilian casualties (205 deaths and 261 injured), a 52 percent increase in civilian casualties from air strikes compared to the same period in 2016,” UNAMA reported.
Donald Trump has delivered a stark personal message to Kim Jong-un, saying North Korea will face disaster unless he gives up his nuclear ambitions.
Speaking in front of lawmakers at South Korea’s national assembly, the US president offered a “brighter path” if Pyongyang abandoned its weapons programme, leaving the door open to diplomacy, but also warned that the US was prepared to use military means if necessary.
“The weapons that you are acquiring are not making you safer, they are putting your regime in grave danger,” he said. “Every step you take down this dark path increases the peril you face.”
Trump has spent two days in South Korea as part of his 12-day tour of east Asia. Addressing Kim directly, he said “despite every crime you have committed against God and man”, the US was prepared to resolve the crisis diplomatically.
“We will offer a path to a much better future,” he said. “It begins with an end to the aggression of your regime, a stop to your development of ballistic missiles, and complete, verifiable and total denuclearisation.” But Trump also issued a warning to the regime, saying: “Do not underestimate us. Do not try us.” He said the US would not tolerate threats to its cities and “would not be intimidated”.
Catalan secessionist parties on Tuesday failed to agree on a united ticket to contest a December snap regional election, making it more difficult to rule the region after the vote and press ahead with their collective bid to split from Spain. ...
Catalan political parties had until midnight on Tuesday to register coalitions ahead of the Dec. 21 vote, but the two main forces which formed an alliance to rule the region for the last two years did not manage to agree on a new pact in time.
While they could still find an agreement after the vote, political analysts say the lack of a deal on a joint campaign may also trigger a leadership fight at the top of the movement.
This is because center-right PdeCat (Catalan Democratic Party) of sacked Catalan president Carles Puigdemont is expected to be overtaken by leftist Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya (ERC) of former regional vice president Oriol Junqueras. ...
An opinion poll released on Sunday by Barcelona-based newspaper La Vanguardia showed Junqueras’ ERC could garner between 45 and 46 seats in the 135-strong regional assembly while Puigdemont’s PdeCat would win between 14 and 15 seats. In order to reach the 68-seat threshold for a majority, they would then have to form a parliamentary alliance with anti-capitalist CUP, which is expected to get seven or eight seats. Such an alliance previously existed between 2015 and 2017.
Hundreds of protesters blocked roads in Guatemala on Tuesday to demand that President Jimmy Morales step down because of accusations of corruption stemming from his 2015 election campaign.
The demonstrators were mostly from rural and indigenous communities. The national roads authority said main roads in the Central American country were blocked at at least seven locations.
A leader of the rural group organizing the protest, Neftali Lopez, said the demonstrators wanted Morales to resign "for corruption" and facilitating organized crime, a purge of Congress, and graft investigations against Guatemala City's mayor and a former president, Alvaro Arzu.
Morales, a 48-year-old former TV comic, took office last year vowing to clean up Guatemala's notoriously shady politics.
It is absurd and an insult to argue that Russian propaganda efforts “deepen political and racial tensions in the United States,” as proposed by Julia Ioffe in a recent article in the Atlantic. But the linking of the legitimate struggle of African/Black people in the United States against systemic oppression with “foreign” influences has been a recurrent feature of the ideological and military containment strategy of the U.S. state ever since the Soviet Union emerged as an international competitor to the four hundred-year-old colonial/capitalist Pan-European project. ...
Today, the new McCarthyism is being led by centrist and liberal democrats utilizing the almost comical notion that capitalist Russia possesses the power and influence to not only impact elections but also create racial tensions. And once again, Black opposition is being casted as somehow foreign influenced and, therefore, a security threat that justifies special targeted repression. But it is not just the radical “Black identity extremists” who write for Black Agenda Report and other Black radicals that find themselves subject to greater state scrutiny and on the receiving end of smear campaigns by rags like the Washington Post. Even loyal servants like Donna Brazile have now provoked the ire of the Democrat party leaders who question whether or not she has also become a Russia mole. Donna Brazile didn’t even try and run from the Democrat plantation, but she is being treated like a runaway slave for just having the temerity to question Massa Clinton. ...
It is not Russians shooting down our people in the streets; transferring our children from juvenile to adult courts in record numbers; infiltrating our organizations; suppressing our votes; closing down schools and hospitals in our communities, poisoning the water and land in our communities; raising our rents and taxes and displacing us out of the cities; or militarizing the police through the 1033 program. No… these are the results of the policies enacted and implemented by good-old “Americans” in a society where the lives of the Black working class and poor don’t and never have mattered.
Nation That Says It Can't Afford Universal Healthcare Has Spent $5.6 Trillion on War Since 9/11 (With No End in Sight)
The Costs of War Project at Brown University's Watson Center says the figure—which covers the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from 2001 through 2018—is the equivalent of more than $23,386 per taxpayer.
The "new report," said Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action's senior director for policy and political affairs, "once again shows that the true #costofwar represents a colossal burden to taxpayers on top of the tremendous human loss."
The center's figure is far greater than the $1.5 trillion the Pentagon estimated (pdf) in July for the costs of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, as it gives a fuller picture by including "war-related spending by the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security," writes Neta C. Crawford, a professor of political science at Boston University.
Her report notes that even the $5.6 trillion tally underestimates the true figures, as it doesn't capture "every budgetary expense related to these wars," such as state and local costs to take care of veterans; nor does it take into account the funds used for military equipment "gifts" to countries involved in the conflicts. "In sum," it states, "although this report's accounting is comprehensive, there are still billions of dollars not included in its estimate."
Art conservators dream of finding hidden secrets in the masterpieces they look after. Rarely do they expect to find a dead grasshopper. Curators at the Nelson-Atkins museum of art in Kansas City said they discovered the dead insect in one of its star paintings, Vincent Van Gogh’s Olive Trees, when it was being scanned as part of the research for a catalogue of its French painting collection.
It was spotted by paintings conservator Mary Schafer. She told a local broadcaster that she found it in the work’s lower foreground. “Looking at the painting with the microscope ... I came across the teeny-tiny body of a grasshopper submerged in the paint, so it occurred in the wet paint back in 1889.
“We can connect it to Van Gogh painting outside, so we think of him battling the elements, dealing with the wind, the bugs, and then he’s got this wet canvas that he’s got to traipse back to his studio through the fields.
Donna Brazile inherited the DNC chair position from Florida congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who handed the Clinton campaign keys to the party fundraising apparatus through a joint fundraising group called the Hillary Victory Fund: an agreement between the Clinton campaign, the DNC and 32 state parties to raise campaign funds together. The power of that agreement, which effectively allowed Clinton to avoid campaign limits by funneling donations through state parties, was a direct result of a split 2014 Supreme Court decision in which the court’s Chief Justice John Roberts called worries about such arrangments “hypothetical” and “divorced from reality.”
But campaign finance experts say the scenario, far from being hypothetical, may be the new political reality.
“This situation shows that if anyone is divorced from reality, it was the chief justice in assuming they wouldn’t take advantage of this,” Stephen Spaulding, chief of strategy and external affairs for Common Cause, a non-partisan government watchdog group, told International Business Times.
The case in question is McCutcheon v. FEC, a suit brought by Shaun McCutcheon, a Republican activist from Alabama. The Supreme Court ruled in his favor, striking down a federal limit on the total amount individuals could give to parties, candidates and committees each election cycle, which at the time was $123,300.
While there are still limits on how much money a donor can give to single candidates and committees, the court said that a cap on the total amount of money a donor could give per election cycle was an unconstitutional violation of donor free speech rights, continuing a string of decisions following Citizens United in 2010 that have dismantled campaign finance rules on First Amendment grounds.
A panel of federal judges late Tuesday turned down a request by Pennsylvania Republican lawmakers to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the state’s congressional district map. The ruling, hours after the three judges heard oral arguments in Philadelphia, means the case can proceed to trial next month.
The suit, Agre v. Wolf, is one of several claims nationwide that accuse lawmakers of intentionally drawing maps to ensure their party’s victory. The Pennsylvania case seeks to have the map declared unconstitutional under a partisan gerrymandering theory relatively untested in the courts: The Elections Clause of the U.S. Constitution allows states to make decisions regarding voting, but not to insert partisanship when they do so.
That clause “does not confer upon the state legislature the authority to pick winners and losers in congressional elections,” Thomas H. Geoghegan, a lawyer for the five Pennsylvania plaintiffs, argued during Tuesday’s hearing. ... Pennsylvania’s current congressional map is considered by experts one of the country’s most gerrymandered. Since its adoption, Republicans have won 13 of 18 congressional seats, even as voters statewide have been nearly split between Republicans and Democrats.
A civil rights attorney who delights in suing the police is the new district attorney in Philadelphia. A democratic socialist shocked an incumbent Republican in Virginia. A black woman who prosecuted a white cop for shooting a black teenager was re-elected as prosecutor. Three months after Charlottesville, a black lieutenant governor was elected in Virginia. A transgender woman who focused on traffic problems knocked out a longtime culture warrior who focused on bathrooms. A criminal justice reformer flipped the Washington state Senate to Democrats. A wet bag of mulch beat a race-baiting lobbyist in Virginia by a stunning nine points. Maine voters expanded Medicaid. Long-held Republican seats in Georgia flipped in a special election. New Jersey, finished with Gov. Chris Christie, elected a Democrat in a landslide. ...
A year ago, Bernie Sanders ran an insurgent campaign that helped popularize democratic socialism and resurgent populism among American progressives. On Tuesday, populist candidates won in places you may not expect — from Manassas, Virginia to Knoxville, Tennessee. In Virginia, Democratic Socialists of America-backed Lee Carter defeated the GOP whip Jackson Miller in the House of Delegates. Richmond-Times Dispatch reporter Patrick Wilson noted that the state Democratic Party offered little support to Carter. He won anyway. Numerous wings of the broader party united behind Carter, including factions, such as Planned Parenthood, who had backed Hillary Clinton last year.
Across the country, DSA candidates took offices, winning both as Democrats and independents. Socialist Seema Singh Perez won a seat on the Knoxville City Council. In Pittsburgh, a pair of DSA-backed candidates won, including Mik Pappas, an independent candidate who defeated a 24-year incumbent Democrat to become the 31st Magisterial District judge. Pappas ran strong on criminal justice reform, focusing on restorative justice rather than punitive measures.
There were a few low points for populists. In Ohio, a drug price control referendum went down by a huge margin after the industry spent $60 million opposing it, and a slate of Our Revolution-backed candidates went down in local Columbus elections. In Seattle, socialist Jon Grant, despite building a strong public-financed campaign organized by recruiting the homeless, was defeated in his bid for city council; meanwhile, the most business-friendly candidate was elected mayor.
With Hurricane Irma still fresh in their minds, Miami residents on Tuesday voted yes on a big funding measure to protect their city from climate change.
The major port city is set to spend nearly half a billion dollars on projects like storm-drain upgrades, flood pumps, and seawalls, as well as affordable housing and new roads, all measures aimed at bracing for the effects of climate change.
The $400 million approved in the ballot measure in Tuesday’s election comes via a “Miami Forever” general obligation bond, which allows the city government to spend money that it borrows on the municipal bond market, leveraged against property taxes.
It’s a last-minute win for outgoing Mayor Tomás Regalado, a Republican who defied many in his party in championing the effort.
That includes Gov. Rick Scott, a climate change skeptic who said after Irma hit in early September: “Clearly our environment changes all the time, and whether that’s cycles we’re going through or whether that’s man-made, I wouldn’t be able to tell you.”
In Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, it is still possible to wander the maze of rooms of an ancestral Puebloan village erected roughly 1,000 years ago. ... Chaco Culture national historical park, created in 1907, contains a concentration of these ancestral Puebloan structures abandoned around 1200 AD. Unesco recognized it as a world heritage site in 1987 for its “monumental public and ceremonial buildings and its distinctive architecture – it has an ancient urban ceremonial centre that is unlike anything constructed before or since”.
It’s as close as the US gets to Egypt’s pyramids and Peru’s Machu Picchu, but recent years have seen drilling pressing closer to the park’s boundaries, now aided by the Trump administration’s work to accelerate oil and gas development. If not stopped, those developments could spell the end of a myriad of clues archaeologists and anthropologists are still unraveling about Chacoans’ way of life.
Anthropologist Ruth Van Dyke is trying to unveil what visitors would have seen and heard on their way into the canyon and the epicenter of their civilization. But while she made a visit last fall, a dozen oilwell pump jacks interrupted her view of landmarks that still figure in Native American stories. The nearest one, less than a mile away, could be heard working. “It very much feels like an industrial park,” Van Dyke says. “They haven’t put any of these pump jacks on an archaeological site, and yet the overall effect is really horrific.” ...
The San Juan Basin seeped natural gas for decades, a sleepy little play that drew modest interest. Then in 2013, energy companies took new technology to a nearby shale formation, and a previously unyielding layer began to spout oil. The ability to drill wells a mile deep and a mile and a half long and to hydraulically fracture those rock formations spurred development, and has drawn it toward Chaco. The local field office for the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), responsible for leasing many of those mineral rights, has conceded the pace of drilling exceeds anything their planning documents foresaw. They’re at work on updates. Meanwhile, lease sales continue.
While the park itself may be protected, it’s only a portion of what remains of ancient Chacoans. Many outlier sites or ceremonial roads may not even yet be identified. “If we destroy our ability to study these outlier communities and we destroy our ability to study these connections, particularly these connections in terms of these roads and visibility, we’re never going to understand Chaco,” says Van Dyke. “We need to take care of all of the pieces of that system and the connections among those pieces, not just the center of it.”
Also of Interest
Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.
A Little Night Music
Ben E King - Spanish Harlem
Ben E. King - Under The Boardwalk
Ben E. King and The Drifters - There Goes My Baby
Ben E. King - That's when it hurts
Ben E King - Young Boy Blues
Ben E. King and The Drifters - I Count The Tears
Ben E. King - This Magic Moment
Ben E. King - I Can't Break The News To Myself
Ben E. King - Save The Last Dance For Me