The Evening Blues - 6-11-18


The day's news roundup + tonight's musical feature: Jesse Fuller

Hey! Good Evening!

This evening's music features San Francisco folk blues artist Jesse Fuller. Enjoy!

Jesse Fuller - Leavin Memphis, Frisco Bound

“All over the world, wherever there are capitalists, freedom of the press means freedom to buy up newspapers, to buy writers, to bribe, buy and fake "public opinion" for the benefit of the bourgeoisie.”

-- Vladimir Lenin

News and Opinion

Donald Trump’s Surveillance of New York Times Reporter Is a True Declaration of War Against the Press

Donald Trump's real war on the press has finally begun. Ever since he began his campaign for president, Trump has engaged in a largely rhetorical battle against the press, casting the reporters who cover him as the enemy of the average American and as disseminators of what he calls “fake news.” But for the most part, Trump’s bark has been worse than his bite. Unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama, Trump was not known to have spied on journalists or tried to jail them – as Obama did with me – for refusing to reveal their sources.

Until now.

Now we know that the Justice Department secretly seized the phone and email records of Ali Watkins, a New York Times reporter, in a leak investigation involving a former Senate staffer. It is the first time the Trump administration is known to have engaged in such an aggressive tactic against a reporter, and it is exactly the kind of press surveillance at which the Obama administration excelled. For years, conservatives attacked Obama for using such tactics to spy on reporters. Of course, there was no outcry from the right on Friday over Trump’s willingness to do the same thing. ...

One story that apparently caught the interest of the Trump administration as part of this draconian leak investigation concerned the Trump-Russia probe. Documents made public in the new leak case show that the government wanted to know how Watkins, then a reporter for BuzzFeed, found out last year that Russian intelligence tried to recruit Carter Page, a former Trump campaign foreign policy adviser who is a key figure in the Trump-Russia investigation. The fact that a scoop about the Trump-Russia case apparently helped prompt a leak investigation by the Trump administration shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Trump-Kim summit: US to offer unprecedented security deal

North Korea is to be offered unprecedented security guarantees when Kim Jong-un meets Donald Trump in Singapore, the US secretary of state has said on the eve of the summit. Mike Pompeo did not specify what security assurances Trump would offer Kim but made clear they would go even further than a 2005 agreement in which the US pledged not to attack North Korea with nuclear or conventional weapons. ...

“It is the case we are prepared to give security assurances necessary for the North Koreans to engage in ... denuclearisation,” Pompeo told reporters. “We are prepared to take actions that will provide them sufficient certainty that they can be comfortable that denuclearisation isn’t something that ends badly for them.” He added: “We are prepared to make ... security assurances that are different, [more] unique than, what America has been willing to provide previously. We think this is both necessary and appropriate.”

US and North Korean officials met in Singapore on Monday to prepare for the historic summit, which will take place at a luxury hotel on an island close to central Singapore. While North Korea spoke of establishing a new “permanent peace-keeping mechanism” and its state-run news agency hailed a “new era” in relations with the US, Trump tweeted on Monday about how pleased he was to be in Singapore. “Excitement in the air!” he tweeted.

Trudeau 'stabbed us in back' on trade, says Trump chief economic adviser

Donald’s Trump’s chief economic adviser said the US pulled out of a G7 communique because the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, “stabbed us in the back” and accused the leader of one America’s most important allies of playing a “sophomoric political stunt for domestic consumption”. In an extraordinary interview with CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday, Larry Kudlow, who was present for negotiations at the G7 summit in Quebec over the weekend, said Trudeau had instigated “a betrayal” and was “essentially double-crossing President Trump”.

Trudeau used a media conference on Saturday to reject a US demand for a sunset clause in the North American trade agreement, Nafta, that Trump has at different times pressed to abolish or renegotiate. The prime minister also said Canada would “move forward with retaliatory measures” in response to the Trump administration’s move to impose tariffs on aluminium and steel imports from the European Union, Mexico and Canada. The move enraged Trump, who branded his Canadian counterpart “dishonest and weak” in a furious tweet, announcing the US would pull out of an agreed communique. ... Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro appeared on Fox News Sunday and said Trudeau deserved “a special place in hell”.

“There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad faith diplomacy with President Donald J Trump and then tries to stab him in the back on the way out the door and that’s what Bad Faith Justin Trudeau did with that stunt press conference,” Navarro said, adding that his comments had come “right from Air Force One”.

Leaders of other G7 member states hit back at the Trump administration’s decision to pull out of the joint statement. The office of the French president, Emmanuel Macron, issued a statement saying cooperation on the international stage “cannot be dictated by fits of anger and throwaway remarks”.

If Trump wants to blow up the world order, who will stop him?

Donald Trump’s early departure, and his subsequent refusal to endorse the G7 communique, has thrown the mainstream press into an apoplexy reflecting a deeper incomprehension of our unfolding global reality. In a bid to mix toughness with humour, Emmanuel Macron had quipped that the G7 might become the … G6. That’s absurd, not least because without the United States, capitalism as we know it (let alone the pitiful G7 gatherings) would disappear from the planet’s face.

There is, of course, little doubt that with Trump in the White House there is an awful lot we should be angst-ridden about. However, the establishment’s reaction to the president’s shenanigans, in the United States and in Europe, is perhaps an even greater worry for progressives, replete as it is with dangerous wishful thinking and copious miscalculation. Some put their faith in the Mueller investigation, assuming that Mike Pence would be kinder to them as president. Others are holding their breath until 2020, refusing to consider the possibility of a second term. What they all fail to grasp is the very real tectonic shifts underpinning Trump’s uncouth antics.

The Trump administration is building up a substantial economic momentum domestically. First, he passed income and corporate tax cuts that the establishment Republicans could not have imagined even in their wildest dreams a few years ago. But this was not all. Behind the scenes, Trump astonished Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat’s leader in the House of Representatives, by approving every single social program that she asked of him. As a result, the federal government is running the largest budget deficit in America’s history when the rate of unemployment is less than 4%.

The US anti-Trump establishment prays that markets will punish his profligacy. This is precisely what would have happened if America were any other country. With a fiscal deficit expected to reach $804bn 2018 and $981bn in 2019, and with the government expected to borrow $2.34tn in the next 18 months, the exchange rate would be crashing and interest rates would be going through the roof. Except that the US is not any other country.

As its central bank, the Fed, winds down its quantitative easing program by selling off its stock of accumulated assets to the private sector, investors need dollars to buy them. This causes the number of dollars available to investors to shrink by up to $50bn a month. Add to this the dollars German and Chinese capitalists need to buy US government bonds (in a bid to park their profits somewhere safe) and you begin to see why Trump believes he will not be punished by a run either on the dollar or on government bonds.

Armed with the exorbitant privilege that owning the dollar presses affords him, Trump then takes a look at the trade flows with the rest of the G7 and comes to an inescapable conclusion: he cannot possibly lose a trade war against countries that have such high surpluses with the US (eg Germany, Italy, China), or which (like Canada) will catch pneumonia the moment the American economy catches the common cold.

More Than Just Russia — There’s a Strong Case for the Trump Team Colluding With Saudi Arabia, Israel, and the UAE

Donald Trump has fully embraced both official, legalized corruption as well as good, old garden-variety individual corruption. Did Trump directly conspire with Vladimir Putin and Russia to influence the 2016 election? That is certainly possible. Will we see concrete evidence of that, especially evidence that would stand up in a court? That also is possible. It is also plausible that Robert Mueller issues a public report that would be damaging, if not damning, to Trump, but for whatever reason decides not to or, because of Trump’s influence over the Justice Department, cannot pursue criminal action. We shall see. But this much is clear: It is a major mistake to place all focus on Russia. We know that Trump’s team has colluded with Israel. We know they colluded with Saudi Arabia. We know they colluded with the United Arab Emirates.

In the United States, Real Flying Cars a Thing But 'Very Serious People' Still Say Medicare for All 'Too Expensive'

While billionaire Google co-founder Larry Page has a team of amazing engineers out in the Nevada cruising around in real life flying cars, back in the real world of the United States it seems that having a healthcare system that actually covers everybody, impoverishes nobody, and treats everyone as equally valuable and worthy of quality care continues to be something that too many powerful people want to remain an unattainable fantasy. ...

Last week, outgoing Starbuck's chairman Howard Schultz was pulling his hair out wanting to know how in the world we're "going to pay for these things" like universal healthcare—which is strange because nearly every other industrialized country in the world does it with a relative smile on their face.

Meanwhile, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi has decided it is not something she wants her party to embrace, but is something she will be happy to "evaluate" if—if!—the Democrats win back Congress in the mid-term elections.

While the costs of wars that have resulted in further destabilizing and impoverishing the Middle East and South Asia continue after more than a decade and a half have cost the U.S. Treasury trillions upon trillions of dollars—with no end in sight—President Donald Trump continues to celebrate record-setting budgets for the Pentagon. Last week it was reported that the Trump administration's plan for public housing would result in a rent hike of 20 percent for the nation's struggling families.

Italy's coalition on collision course with EU after migration standoff

International concern about Italy’s new populist government has mostly focused on the challenge its plans for huge tax cuts and spending hikes might pose to the EU’s budget rules, and the risk it might even leave the euro altogether. But the refusal by the interior minister, Matteo Salvini, this weekend to allow the Aquarius rescue ship carrying 629 migrants to dock in any Italian port makes it clear that the country’s first big clash with the bloc will not be over the common currency, but migration.

The Italian finance minister, Giovanni Tria, sought this weekend to reassure investors and EU officials, saying the coalition of the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and far-right League intended to stay in the euro and would “avoid creating the market conditions” for an involuntary exit. Matteo Salvini, the new interior minister and leader of the far-right League, was less emollient. “France pushes people back at the border, Spain defends its frontier with weapons,” he said, announcing that Italy’s ports were closed to the Aquarius.

“From today, Italy is also starting to say no to human trafficking, no to the business of illegal immigration,” Salvini – who campaigned on a pledge to round up and deport 500,000 migrants living illegally in Italy – added. His intransigence, the first real evidence of the new government’s promised hardline stance, risks precipitating a full-blown crisis over EU asylum reforms, which the bloc has been trying to overhaul without success for the past two years.

Spain agrees to let migrant rescue ship dock in Valencia

She Was Kidnapped by Guerrillas and Forced to Work. That Qualifies as Material Support for Terrorism, According to Immigration Ruling

The highest U.S. immigration administration authority ruled this week that cooking and cleaning for terrorists, even when done under threat of death, qualifies as providing material support and justification for deporting someone. The immigration court’s catch-all interpretation of material support aligns with how it has been used in federal criminal cases, where the law has allowed prosecutors to charge people for vague, often nonviolent offenses related to terrorism.

The case at issue before the immigration court involved an unnamed Salvadoran woman who was kidnapped by guerrillas in 1990 and forced to undergo weapons training and cook and clean. The woman also watched her husband, a sergeant in the Salvadoran army, dig his own grave before being executed by the guerrillas.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security had argued for the woman’s removal from the United States in 2004, based on the duties she was forced to perform while held captive 14 years earlier. Under the material support provisions of the USA Patriot Act, the sweeping security legislation passed in the months after the 9/11 attacks, immigrants may be denied entry or removed from the country if they provided support to terrorists, which are broadly defined in immigration law as nonstate actors involved in armed force. ...

An immigration judge agreed to cancel her removal order, finding that the work she provided was so minimal it did not amount to material support.But DHS appealed the ruling, and this week, in a 2-1 ruling, the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld the government’s reasoning. The majority of board members found that the woman’s cooking and cleaning for the group still qualified as material support, stating that nothing in the law allows for a “quantitative requirement” that would make one activity, such as raising money, more significant than another activity, such as washing dishes. They also ruled, citing a previous case from 2016, that there is no duress exemption to the material support statute.

the horse race

Supreme court Ohio voter ruling is 'green light' to purge rolls, say critics

The supreme court is allowing Ohio to clean up its voting rolls by targeting people who have not cast ballots in a while, in a ruling that will stoke partisan debate over voter rights and alleged Republican attempts to attack them. One representative of a civil rights group said the decision gave a “green light” to state efforts to “loosely purg[e] the registration rolls”. The Republican Ohio secretary of state said it was “a victory for electoral integrity”.

By a 5-4 vote on Monday, the justices rejected arguments that the Ohio practice violates a federal law intended to increase the ranks of registered voters. A handful of other states also use voters’ inactivity to trigger a process that could lead to their removal from the voting rolls. Justice Samuel Alito said Ohio was complying with the 1993 National Voter Registration Act. He was joined by his four conservative colleagues. The four liberal justices dissented.

Under Ohio rules, registered voters who fail to vote in a two-year period are targeted for eventual removal from registration rolls, even if they have not moved and remain eligible. The state said it only uses the disputed process after first comparing its voter lists with a US postal service list of people who have reported a change of address. But not everyone who moves notifies the post office, the state said. So Ohio asks people who have not voted in two years to confirm their eligibility. If they do, or if they show up to vote over the next four years, voters remain registered. If they do nothing, their names fall off the list of registered voters.

“Combined with the two years of nonvoting before notice is sent, that makes a total of six years of nonvoting before removal,” Alito wrote. Stephen Breyer, writing in dissent, said the 1993 law prohibits removing someone from the voting rolls “by reason of the person’s failure to vote. In my view, Ohio’s program does just that”. In a separate dissent, Sonia Sotomayor said Congress enacted the voter registration law “against the backdrop of substantial efforts by states to disenfranchise low-income and minority voters”. The court’s decision essentially endorses “the very purging that Congress expressly sought to protect against”, Sotomayor wrote.

Pelosi "Pay-go" Rule Screws Progressive Agenda Hard

the evening greens

Kinder Morgan Pipeline Leak Two Days Before Trudeau Buyout Was 48 Times Larger Than First Reported

Just two days before Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that his government would purchase Kinder Morgan's faltering and widely opposed Trans Mountain pipeline, British Columbia's Ministry of Environment said 100 liters of crude oil had leaked at a Kinder Morgan pipeline pump station north of Kamloops—but the company initially refused to confirm the severity of the spill. On Saturday, with its bailout from the Canadian taxpayer confirmed by Trudeau, Kinder Morgan declared after an investigation that, actually, 4,800 liters of crude oil had leaked during the May 27 spill—48 times more crude than first reported.

While the Ministry of Environment said no waterways were affected by the leak, environmentalists and Canadian members of parliament highlighted the leak as a telling example of the dangers pipelines pose to people and the environment and continued denouncing Trudeau's buyout. ...

Trudeau's decision has since sparked opposition rallies nationwide, with green groups arguing that the billions of taxpayer money being used to rescue a leak-prone, "climate-destroying" pipeline should be spent on healthcare, education, and a just transition to a sustainable energy system.

"This could cost $15 to $20 billion all told," Andrea Harden-Donahue, energy and climate justice campaigner at Council of Canadians, said at a demonstration outside of the Ottawa office of Liberal MP Catherine McKenna last week. "That is money that could solve the drinking water crisis in Canada on First Nations reserves. That is money that could halve tuition fees across the country. Think about the affordable housing that we could achieve with that money...That is where this money should be going."

Also of Interest

Here are some articles of interest, some which defied fair-use abstraction.

The Eerie Silence Surrounding the Assange Case

Who Cares What Trump “Gives” North Korea at the Summit? What Matters Is Preventing Him from Starting a Nuclear War.

Paul Manafort Has Inadvertently Helped America by Showing the Absurdities of Its Bail System

A Little Night Music

Jesse Fuller - Rockin' Boogie

Jesse Fuller - Stealing

Jesse Fuller - As Long As I Can Feel The Spirit

Jesse Fuller - Whoa Mule

Jesse Fuller - San Francisco Bay Blues

Jesse Fuller - Beat It On Down The Line

Jesse Fuller - The Monkey And the Engineer

Jesse Fuller - Ninety Nine Years And One Dark Day

Jesse Fuller - I Double Double Do Love You

Jesse Fuller - You're No Good

Jesse Fuller - Ida Noyes Hall, University of Chicago, 1962

19 users have voted.


detroitmechworks's picture

If this was a screenplay I would have tossed back at least 20 notes that the president sounds too ridiculously cartoonish. I feel like the grown ups are all arguing about a warner brothers cartoon while I'm trying to tune it out and contemplate the world and my place in it.

So, here's another video on a topic that's guaranteed to piss of the PTB. Judo. Because Russia Likes it. Blum 3

11 users have voted.

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

joe shikspack's picture


heh. while the tide of recent events seems cartoonish, with some of the twists, turns and ludicrous violence of the old looney tunes stuff, it sadly doesn't appear to have the benefit of the thought, logic and artistry of the real thing:

5 users have voted.
GreyWolf's picture

was carefully selected, rather than using the one from a couple of minutes before or after where everybody was all grins ...

Just wanted to remind ya'll that everything is marketing, & everybody is massaging the messaging ...

I myself am perfectly happy with the frowny face photo, or even:

16 users have voted.
snoopydawg's picture


Nice find. Yep, the photo with Merkel looking like she is schooling Trump shows how we are being manipulated daily by the press and their masters. Now to get more people to see that first one so they can see it too.

10 users have voted.

Disclaimer: No Russian, living or dead, had anything to do with the posting of this proudly home-grown comment

joe shikspack's picture


heh, interesting that it was not the "all smiles" photo that the guardian says:

The German chancellor’s office posted the striking picture to Instagram on Saturday with the caption: “Day two of the G7 summit in Canada: spontaneous meeting between two working sessions.”

i guess merkel's office decided upon the day's narrative.

i liked this one for the caption:

7 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

perhaps they could pay for other things..... And put Schultz out of business.


Overpriced coffee from overrated chains just gets my goat. It's not as if this Schultz guy invented anything new. Coffee is pretty simple: beans/grounds, hot water. Done.

Coffee ain't healthcare for all. Chain coffee is as important as all that hot steam floating pointlessly around the machine.


10 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

joe shikspack's picture

@Bollox Ref

i have never really gotten the appeal of starbucks coffee. it just doesn't taste very good to me. my guess is that they make their money by selling a yuppie ambiance and "free" wifi.

that schultz guy is a pernicious jerk.

7 users have voted.
Bollox Ref's picture

@joe shikspack

But a guy who essentially just re-invented the toilet roll, and made many millions doing so, has the nerve to ask how universal health care can be paid for??

I give up.

7 users have voted.

from a reasonably stable genius.

Azazello's picture

@joe shikspack
I am proud to say that I have never had a Starbuck's coffee.
I don't think I've missed anything.

4 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


some years ago somebody at work gave me a starbucks gift card for xmas. i can confidently say that you have missed nothing.

5 users have voted.
GreyWolf's picture

4 users have voted.
GreyWolf's picture

@GreyWolf @GreyWolf


EDIT: Well, after reading through the case it ain't as bad as the tweeter makes it sound. The Court said the law says that if someone doesn't vote you can send them a pre-paid postcard which they must return. But if they fail to return the card and fail to vote in the next four years the state can then remove that person from the voter role. That was the system Ohio was using so the Court said that's OK. So if they don't vote in one election, don't return the postcard, and don't vote in the next election, they may be removed. But as the tweeter says, if people missed the postcard then they may show up one day to vote and not be registered (so after missing 2 presidential elections they may be not listed by the 3rd).

6 users have voted.

@GreyWolf One of the reasons I had my doubts about Russians hacking the election system is that I have worked elections inside polling places. (Not county or state as that was permanent staff.) And the only people who game, cheat, and defraud the system are the Americans inside the system. Witness voter purge in Brooklyn. This ruling proves that the republicans are better at it. Oh, democrats will cheat each other in the primaries, but the gopers will cheat in the general where it counts.

My image of all of this is of Hillary dressed as Jeb Clampett sitting on the front porch of the house with their hound dog looking out for them Russkis. And while that is happening the gopers are breaking in the back door to get the family jewels.

8 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


it looks bad if you assume that we live in a democracy, which would mean that anything that breaks down equality of the franchise is bad.

when you realize that we live in a demockery, where the oligarchic powers that have ruled this country from the time of its birth as a slavocracy, with the franchise largely limited to white, male property owners, then it looks more like a revanchist backlash - in other words, business as usual.

7 users have voted.

Either the Trump admin is doing a piss poor job in making its case, or the media refuses to write about the unfair pratices. The narrative is that Trump is dividing allies, ruining the "Western alliance", etc. A major moral panic. Nothing about the actual trade practices. I am more familiar with what the Chinese have done with solar panels, cars, actually you name it. EU not so sure except that there are accusations they have deliberately kept the Euro low so imports into the US are cheaper to American consumers.

6 users have voted.
joe shikspack's picture


i haven't done enough reading on this to figure out what it is that trump really wants. if you go by what he said on the campaign trail, trump wants you to believe that the "bad trade deals" have lead to a vast loss of employment in the u.s. and unfavorable conditions for many industries.

i doubt, though, that employment is his real concern (i would imagine the beating down of working class wages is something he approves of). i suspect that part of this is an ego-burnishing exercise and part of it is to gain advantage for a few u.s. industries that have his ear.

6 users have voted.
Lookout's picture

About to call it a day. Just in from the PPC in Montgomery. Before the rally, I went to the new Legacy museum Powerful and sadly moving. (3 min)
Going to the rally afterward was helpful. The theme this week - education, living wages, and fair housing. They took the march to the Dept of Ed. I didn't go. We have a new state school supt from our county and I'm trying to work a deal with him to try some teacher/community designed schools and pilot regional high school conventions to discuss current events. Don't know if I can pull it off but I don't want to blow my chance.

I like the singing - gonna keep on a walking, keep on a talkin', walking on to freedom land

All the best and thanks for the music and news.

8 users have voted.

“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

joe shikspack's picture


glad you had a chance to check out the museum, it looks interesting.

good luck with your negotiations with the new state superintendent. i hope that something cool comes out of it.

3 users have voted.