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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 21,002

Journal Archives

"The violence of the Assad regime is the main cause of the refugee crisis."

The removal of Assad (51%) and ISIS (43%) would motivate refugees to return to Syria.

Perhaps most of us are so shocked and morally offended by the actions of ISIS that we forget how long Assad has been terrorizing Syrians. Apparently the refugees have not forgotten.

Thanks for posting this survey, DetlefK. I would never has come across it otherwise.

Krugman: The TPP looks better than it did, which infuriates much of Congress.

I’ve described myself as a lukewarm opponent of the Trans-Pacific Partnership; although I don’t share the intense dislike of many progressives, I’ve seen it as an agreement not really so much about trade as about strengthening intellectual property monopolies and corporate clout in dispute settlement — both arguably bad things, not good, even from an efficiency standpoint. But the WH is telling me that the agreement just reached is significantly different from what we were hearing before, and the angry reaction of industry and Republicans seems to confirm that.

What I know so far: pharma is mad because the extension of property rights in biologics is much shorter than it wanted, tobacco is mad because it has been carved out of the dispute settlement deal, and Rs in general are mad because the labor protection stuff is stronger than expected. All of these are good things from my point of view. I’ll need to do much more homework once the details are clearer.

But it’s interesting that what we’re seeing so far is a harsh backlash from the right against these improvements. I find myself thinking of Grossman and Helpman’s work on the political economy of free trade agreements, in which they conclude, based on a highly stylized but nonetheless interesting model of special interest politics, that

An FTA is most likely to politically viable exactly when it would be socially harmful.

The TPP looks better than it did, which infuriates much of Congress.


AFAIK, this is Krugman's first take on the recently signed TPP. He says still has much 'more homework' to do on it when 'the details are clearer'.

That's fine. FDR did not agree and promoted the ITO with GATT which became the WTO.

National sovereignty was, obviously, not his highest priority. Countries working together to solve global problems was more important to him. Hence the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, the International Trade Organization and myriad others. Now polls show the republican base opposes all of those FDR creations.

He knew that republicans had unilaterally raised tariffs on the rest of the world 3 times from 1921 to 1930 and the middle class had paid the price.

One of his motivations in setting up the ITO/GATT was to make it more difficult for 'republicans' in any country to unilaterally raise tariffs in the name of national sovereignty as his predecessors had. He may not have known that some future Democrats would rue his actions and want to go 'national sovereignty' on the rest of the world like republicans had done in the 1920's.

Bill Clinton was lucky because the dot.com boom revved up our economy.

The old "Democrats are lucky" argument. I wonder why the dot.com bubble made Clinton so 'lucky' in terms of manufacturing employment but the great housing bubble under Bush saw that employment crash through the floor? Krugman has written that the dot.com bubble was not the main reason for the manufacturing surge under Clinton.

And our trade deficit is horrible. The percentage of the economy that is imported is rather irrelevant.

No. Facts like this are relevant.

If low tariffs were leading to high levels of imports creating a trade deficit despite a healthy level of exports, that is a totally different problem than one where a country has a low level of imports but an even lower amount of exports. Raising tariffs when imports are already low does not help much, though it can be emotionally satisfying, as republicans discovered in the 1920's.

Poll shows big 4 issues in primary for both parties. GOP: 1. ending Iran deal, 2. end funding for

Planned Parenthood, 3. send troops to fight ISIS, 4. deport all illegal immigrants.

For Democrats: 1. offer plans like Obama, 2. compromise with republicans, 3. cut size of banks, 4. expand trade agreements.


Lots of other interesting information on candidates and their supporters.

There was a poll a few years ago that folks in the Middle East thought the US was more interested

in stability than in democracy there while the people there prefer democracy.


Then there is this poll in 2012 that showed they are right. Democrats were modestly more supportive of democracy than republicans but a majority still prioritized stability.


50th Anniversary of the 1965 Immigration Act that shifted immigration from Europe to

Asia and Latin America, changing "a blatantly discriminatory system".

Fifty years after its passage, it is clear the law definitively altered the complexion of the U.S. population. In 1965, the immigrant share of the population was at an all-time low. Eighty-five percent of the population was white, and 7 out of 8 immigrants were coming from Europe. By 2010, the share of the U.S. population born overseas had tripled, and 9 out of 10 immigrants were coming from outside Europe.

The law was enacted at the height of the civil rights movement, and although it was motivated by the desire to eliminate discrimination, it was largely overshadowed at the time by the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the 1965 Voting Rights Act. Even its supporters saw its passage as largely a symbolic victory.

During the debate over the bill, however, conservatives said it was entirely appropriate to select immigrants on the basis of their national origin. The United States, they argued, was fundamentally an Anglo-Saxon European nation and should stay that way.

But on its 50th anniversary, not everyone is celebrating the law that made America more diverse. In this election season, some commentators have intensified their complaints about immigration. Not only are there too many foreigners, some say; they're not white enough. "The 1965 Act through a series of complicated rules to bring in people from cultures as different from ours as possible and as poor as possible," said conservative author Ann Coulter in a recent interview on C-SPAN's Book TV.


The attitude of conservatives towards immigration (particularly of the non-white variety) never seems to change. Likewise their view of the US as a "white nation" never seems to change even in the face of a changing reality.

‘They were torturing to kill’: inside Syria’s death machine.Caesar, the Syrian military photographer

who smuggled shocking evidence of torture out of Assad’s dungeons, tells his story for the first time.

For two years, between 2011 and 2013, the former Syrian military photographer known only as Caesar used a police computer in Damascus to copy thousands of photographs of detainees who were tortured to death in Bashar al-Assad’s jails. The media have run numerous stories about the man who managed to smuggle astonishing evidence of crimes against humanity out of the country – at great risk to himself and his family – but he had never been interviewed.

Month after month, for two years, this man, who has remained anonymous, took photographs of tortured, starved and burnt bodies. His orders were to photograph the bodies in order to document prisoners’ deaths. He then secretly made copies and transferred them on to USB keys so that he could smuggle them out of his office, hidden in his shoes or his belt, and pass them to a friend who could get them out of the country.

The terrorists of Islamic State proclaim their atrocities on social networks; the Syrian state hides its misdeeds in the silence of its dungeons. Before Caesar, no insider had supplied evidence of the existence of the Syrian death machine. And these photos and documents were damning.

I had never seen anything like it. Before the uprising, the regime tortured prisoners to get information; now they were torturing to kill. I saw marks left by burning candles, and once the round mark of a stove – the sort you use to heat tea – that had burned someone’s face and hair. Some people had deep cuts, some had their eyes gouged out, their teeth broken, you could see traces of lashes with those cables you use to start cars. There were wounds full of pus, as if they’d been left untreated for a long time and had got infected. Sometimes the bodies were covered with blood that looked fresh. It was clear they had died very recently.


ISIS may indeed be worse now but it is understandable why people were fed up with the Assad regime back in 2011.

Most Russians Oppose Sending Troops To Syria. Slim plurality support sending arms.

More than two-thirds of Russians oppose sending troops to Syria to prop up President Bashar al-Assad’s government, while a majority approve of Moscow’s use of diplomatic and political channels to help its embattled ally in the Middle East, according to a respected independent pollster.

At a time when the Kremlin has been ramping up its military presence in Syria, its largest deployment outside the former Soviet Union in decades, the poll by the Levada Center found that only 14 percent of Russians believe Russia should provide “direct military support” for the Syrian government by sending in troops.

The Levada poll said that 69 percent either firmly oppose or probably oppose deploying troops to help the Syrian leadership, while 67 percent back Russian “political and diplomatic support” for Assad’s government.

It said that 43 percent support providing Damascus with weapons and military consultation — as Moscow has been doing throughout a more than four-year conflict that has killed some 250,000 people — while 41 percent oppose it.


I would not have guessed that only 43% of Russians support providing weapons to Assad with 41% opposed.

Poll: Large partisan split in attitudes towards refugees

Opinion about the U.S. response to the European migrant situation is divided along partisan lines. By more than two-to-one (69%-29%), Democrats approve of the U.S. decision to increase the number of refugees it accepts. By about the same margin (67% to 30%), Republicans disapprove of this decision.

The partisan and demographic differences in views of the decision to accept more refugees mirror differences in opinions of immigrants and their impact on the United States.

Hispanics are particularly supportive of the U.S. decision to increase the cap on the number of refugees it accepts over the next few years: 66% approve of this decision while just 27% disapprove. Blacks also approve of the decision by a 58%-39% margin. Among whites, opinion is divided: 46% approve, 50% disapprove.


Seems pretty consistent between attitudes towards immigrants in general and refugees in particular. The more republican, older and whiter one is the more likely to oppose immigration and accepting refugees.

"The conspiracy fantasies ... onstitute an alternative reality that is immune from facts."

8. Conspiracy theories and the paranoid style.

Donald Trump was one of the most prominent advocates of “Birtherism”—a belief that Barack Obama, the United States’ first black president, was somehow not eligible for the office because he is not a “real” citizen.

This is an absurdly racist claim; nevertheless it is one that is still believed by 66 percent of Trump supporters and 45 percent of Republicans. Birtherism was the first of many conspiracy theories that would be invented by the right-wing media in the age of Obama. Obsessions about Planned Parenthood, ACORN and Benghazi would follow. These delusions are part of a long pattern of right-wing paranoia that Richard Hofstadter detailed in his landmark 1964 essay, “The Paranoid Style in American Politics.”

The right-wing media and the Republican Party’s embrace of conspiracy theories and paranoid delusions contribute to a broken political system because too much time is spent on the absurd
instead of doing the work of real governance. The conspiracy fantasies of Donald Trump and the American right-wing constitute an alternative reality that is immune from facts. Consequently, these beliefs function as a type of religious cult where faith—what is a belief that cannot be proven by ordinary means—is substituted for empirical reality.

Donald Trump’s “birtherism” alternate reality is compelling and exciting for those who believe in it. Such conspiranoid delusions are dangerous because they create extreme political polarization, a political system that cannot fulfill its basic functions, encourage violence, and tear at the common beliefs and values that create a sense of political legitimacy and community in the United States.


This article focuses on Trump but Carson and the others mimic what Trump is doing.
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