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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 18,046

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France’s cash-strapped far right turns to Russian lender. "No one else will give us a cent."

Marine Le Pen stands before a large poster reading "No to Brussels" at a rally ahead of the 2014 European elections.

The French far right’s cosiness with Vladimir Putin’s Russia is back in the spotlight as Marine Le Pen’s party confirms it borrowed nine million euros from a Russian lender, saying “no one else will give us a cent”.

France’s far-right National Front (FN) said Sunday it had borrowed the money from Moscow-based First Czech Russian Bank (FRCB), confirming a report by the investigative news website Mediapart. “We have been looking for loans for some time, to fund our election campaigns. But our bank, like most French and European lenders, categorically refuses to give the FN and FN candidates the slightest cent,” he said. Saint-Just has expressed similar concerns in the past, saying banks were reluctant to lend money to political parties since former president Nicolas Sarkozy was fined 500,000 euros for undisclosed expenses in his failed 2012 presidential bid.

Pointing to Le Pen’s well-known penchant for Moscow, Mediapart said the FN’s Russian funding raised concerns about “possible foreign interference in French politics”. The far right leader has made multiple trips to Moscow since taking over from her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, in 2011. She has made no secret of her respect for President Vladimir Putin, repeatedly slamming EU leaders for stoking a “new Cold War” with Russia.

Le Pen's party has described Putin as a "patriot" and a defender of traditional European values, hailing his moves to crack down on LGBT "propaganda".

"The Kremlin is now betting on the National Front," wrote the French weekly. "It deems the party capable of seizing power in France and changing the course of European history in Moscow's favour."


Since this loan has been revealed, it will be interesting to see how French election authorities react to it.

Populism as a ‘thin-centred’ ideology: ranging from the left (‘Chavismo’) to the right ('tea party')

In recent years we have seen established political parties increasingly challenged by populist parties. Populism is essentially a ‘thin-centred’ ideology. It considers society to be separated into two homogeneous and antagonistic groups: ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’, and argues that politics should be an expression of the ‘general will’ of the people. Because populism is a thin ideology, it can be easily combined with other (full) ideologies ranging from the left (e.g. ‘Chavismo’) to the right (e.g. the UK Independence party).

Given the diversity of populist phenomena, it is a challenge to talk about there being general causes for the rise and success of populist parties. ... In the analysis, I examined the reason people voted for six parties. Each can be defined as populist, but they differ remarkably in terms of their full ideology. The six parties hail from Belgium, The Netherlands and Germany. Both leftwing populist parties (the Socialist party in the Netherlands and Die Linke, the Left party, in Germany) and rightwing populist parties (List Pim Fortuyn and PVV in The Netherlands and List Dedecker and Vlaams Belang in Belgium) were included in the analysis. Drawing on national election surveys in these countries, I found that despite many differences, the voters for these populist parties had three characteristics in common.

The first is that those who vote for populist parties are all dissatisfied with the functioning of democracy. Hardly any other (opposition) party was able to appeal to voters with low levels of political trust to the same extent as populist parties do, suggesting the emergence of dual-party systems. As the representative function of parties eroded as they played their part in governing, voters came to see such parties as more remote and similar to each other.

Finally, while populist parties do not mobilise among one specific social group, it seems that deprived groups are generally more susceptible to populist voting. Rightwing populist parties attract the so-called ‘losers from globalisation’: lower-educated people who are concerned about issues such as outsourcing, immigration and European integration. The leftwing populist Die Linke (formerly the PDS), however, used to give voice to higher-educated civil servants who had become robbed of their elite status after the fall of the Berlin wall.

For two reasons, we should also put the rise of populist parties into perspective. First, they represent a modest, if not marginal, part of the electorate in most western European countries. Most voters are satisfied with the functioning of democracy and will only shift massively to populist alternatives in times of a serious crisis as is currently the case in Greece. Second, populists put issues on the agenda that have been neglected by mainstream parties and also reintegrate certain deprived groups into the political system.


This article deals with populist parties in Europe but the themes seem to apply to the US as well. Even in Europe most of the populist parties are on the right.

The idea that populism is a "thin-centered' ideology apparently means that it can be adapted for use on the left and the right - ‘the pure people’ versus ‘the corrupt elite’ being a staple of both.

In Syria, Doctors Become the Victims

From the start of the war, the regime of Bashar al-Assad has attacked civilians and obstructed humanitarian relief, including vaccinations for children. It has cut off electricity and clean water to areas controlled by the opposition, punished health workers treating protesters and opposition fighters, and deployed chemical weapons against defenseless fellow Syrians. But things have gotten worse over the past year. The Assad regime has descended to an unprecedented level of barbarism, escalating its use of air power against enormous numbers of civilians. The number of injured, according to the World Health Organization, has risen to 25,000 people per month.

The centerpiece of the new strategy has been the barrel bomb, an oil drum filled with explosives, bolts, hardware and scrap metal, usually dropped from a helicopter. The bombs explode with terrific force and breadth, amputating limbs and driving shrapnel throughout the body. One doctor we interviewed was still horrified by the indelible image of a mother and daughter whose bodies were blown apart while their hands remained clasped together.

When the conflict began, the regime decreed that medical care to any area controlled by the opposition, which included demonstrators as well as armed opponents, was a criminal offense — a position that violated the Geneva Conventions’ declaration that medical personnel and facilities are off-limits. Of the 25 medical staff members we interviewed, six had been arrested and jailed for allegedly providing such care. Now the regime is targeting anyone giving medical care in opposition-run areas.

The brutality of the Assad regime’s tactics at least equals that of the Islamic State. Aleppo itself may soon be under complete siege by regime forces. The Obama administration must affirm America’s leadership role and act to save people under such relentless attack. When work in a field hospital becomes like death, it is difficult to imagine how life has any chance at all.


Leonard S. Rubenstein is the director of the Program on Human Rights, Health and Conflict at the Center for Public Health and Human Rights at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and member of the core faculty at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, both at Johns Hopkins University. M. Zaher Sahloul is a critical care specialist in Chicago and the president of the Syrian American Medical Society.

From the far-right WND: The New World Disorder

Will GOP stab its voters in the back?

Sen. Mitch McConnell, eager to show the world a GOP-run Congress “can govern,” wants to give President Obama extra-constitutional “fast track” power. Obama would use this power to bypass Congress and enact the globalists’ newest so-called free trade deal, the TransPacific Partnership. It’s better known as Obamatrade because Congress would have to pass it to find out what’s in it. But Obamatrade is deeply unpopular with the American people, and even more unpopular with conservatives and the other voters Republican rely on to win elections.

We know this from a series of polls. It’s more useful and reliable to look at series of poll than a single survey, likely commissioned by someone with an ax to grind. Luckily, the non-partisan Pew Research Center has been polling the public’s attitude about globalization and so-called free trade for years. It found only 1 in 5 Americans believe Obamatrade will create jobs, and even fewer – 17 percent – believe it will raise wages. However, 78 percent of Vietnamese believe Obamatrade will create jobs. If your congressman says Obamatrade will create jobs, ask him who’s he representing – you, or HanoiJane?

While 35 percent of Democrats said trade deals like NAFTA and the WTO have been bad for the country, 54 percent of Republicans and a whopping 63 percent of folks who identify with the tea party said they’re bad. And while 47 percent of Democrats believe the trade deals lead to job losses, 58 percent of Republicans and fully 67 percent of tea party conservatives see them as job-killers.

The American Enterprise Institute, hardly a liberal front group, cites the definitive Pew research, Beyond Red and Blue. It found white working class voters oppose free trade agreements by a 2-to-1 margin – and they oppose increased immigration. These voters see so-called free trade and amnesty as two sides of the same coin: “They are pressed by competition from foreigners at home (immigration) and abroad (free trade), and they don’t like it,” Olsen writes. So, while the effete intellectuals at Beltway think tanks try to peddle the myth that only the labor unions in the Democratic Party oppose so-called free trade, the truth is patriotic conservatives understand it is just more of the open-borders globalism that is destroying the country we love.


I suppose calling it "Obamatrade" both links it to "Obamacare" which in their minds is a colossal failure. Obviously there is a huge gap between the republican and tea party base and the politicians of the GOP with respect to trade agreements.

"Hanoi Jane"? There's a reference to the past that I haven't seen in many years.

Yes. Yes. Yes. No.

I have seen much evidence of what IS is doing to young girls, women in general and anyone who opposes them.

My point, poorly expressed obviously, is that some will be suspicious because the evidence leads to policy implications that are uncomfortable. That is similar to our tea-party types with respect to climate change and to many Americans attitudes to events in Germany in the mid-30's to early-40's.

"We care. We should do something about it but there is nothing we can do.'
"We care. We should do something about it and will. The questions is what."
"We care but we should not do anything about it because it is none of our business. The girls (Jews) are not Americans."
"We care but we should not do anything about it because it is none of our business. Even if the girls (Jews) were Americans, it happened in another country."
"We don't care because the girls (Jews) are not Americans."
"We don't care because it happened outside the US."
"We just don't care. It did not happen to me."

Krugman: Why the One Percent Hates Obama - Their tax rates back to pre-Reagan levels

A peculiar aspect of the Obama years has been the disconnect between the rage of Obama’s enemies and the yawns of his sort-of allies. The right denounces financial reform as a vast government takeover — and lobbies fiercely against it — while the left dismisses reform as symbols without substance. The right accuses Obama of being a socialist stealing the money of hard-working billionaires, while the left dismisses him as having done nothing to address inequality.

On all these issues, the truth is that Obama has done far more than he gets credit for — not everything you’d want, to be sure, or even most of what should be done, but enough so that the right has reason to be furious.

The latest case in point: taxes on the one percent. I keep hearing that Obama has done nothing to make the one percent pay more; the Congressional Budget Office does not agree:

According to CBO, the effective tax rate on the one percent — reflecting the end of the Bush tax cuts at the top end, plus additional taxes associated with Obamacare — is now back to pre-Reagan levels. You could argue that we should have raised taxes at the top much more, to lean against the widening of market inequality, and I would agree. But it’s still a much bigger change than I think anyone on the left seems to realize.


Most of this we knew already. I agree that "we should have raised taxes at the top much more, to lean against the widening of market inequality" but it is still a "much bigger change" than most realize. It's good to see Krugman summarize it like this.

Not only NAFTA and TPP but Woodrow Wilson's Tariff Act of 1913, FDR's RTAA and ITO, Truman's GATT,

#3 of Woodrow Wilson's 14 Pointsand the Underwood Tariff Act of 1913, the Kennedy round of GATT authorized in 1962, etc.

Historically republicans had a history of raising tariffs and restricting trade, while Democrats traditionally lowered tariffs and liberalized trade.

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act (RTAA) into law in 1934. RTAA gave the president power to negotiate bilateral, reciprocal trade agreements with other countries. This law enabled Roosevelt to liberalize American trade policy around the globe. It is widely credited with ushering in the era of liberal trade policy that persists to this day.

The RTAA marked a sharp departure from the era of protectionism in the United States.

After the Civil War, Democrats were generally the party of trade liberalization, while Republicans were generally for higher tariffs. This pattern was clear in congressional votes for tariffs from 1860 until 1930. Democrats were the congressional minority in the majority of Congresses between the Civil War and the election of Roosevelt. During their brief stints in the majority, Democrats passed several tariff reduction bills. Examples include the Wilson-Gorman Act of 1894 and the Underwood Tariff Act of 1913. However, subsequent Republican majorities always undid these unilateral tariff reductions.


FDR's RTAA also started the practice of 'fast track' which had not existed before.

The removal, of all economic barriers and the establishment of equality of trade conditions among all the nations ...


The main objectives of the Kennedy Round were to:

Slash tariffs by half with a minimum of exceptions
Break down farm trade restrictions
Remove non-tariff barriers
Help developing countries


The Bretton Woods Conference of 1944, which established an international institution for monetary policy, recognized the need for a comparable international institution for trade to complement the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

The International Trade Organization, or ITO was the proposed name for an international institution for the regulation of trade.


Republican-led congresses never would approve US participation in the ITO. They probably would have rejected US involvement in GATT, as well, but that passed when Democrats still had a majority in congress.

The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was a multilateral agreement regulating international trade. According to its preamble, its purpose was the "substantial reduction of tariffs and other trade barriers and the elimination of preferences, on a reciprocal and mutually advantageous basis." It was negotiated during the United Nations Conference on Trade and Employment and was the outcome of the failure of negotiating governments to create the International Trade Organization (ITO). GATT was signed in 1947, took effect in 1948, and lasted until 1994; it was replaced by the World Trade Organization in 1995.


Yet another reason for our conservatives to hate the UN (as if they needed one).

Conservatives in Europe have the European Union to hate. Conservatives hate any international organization that weakens supremacy of nationalism which seem to be a common commitment on the right.

If there is one ideological doctrine about which there is almost full consensus regarding its importance for understanding the far-right worldview, it is that of nationalism. Historically, the literature on nationalism has taken diverse directions and is extremely rich, but in its varying guises it usually refers to the association between ethnic, cultural and/or linguistic identity and political expression, or more simply put, the convergence of a cultural framework with a political entity.


Great interactive map of ACA success. Compare KY/WV to TN/VA for effect of R governor.

Obamacare Geographic Implementation Overview

A new data set provides a clearer picture of which people gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act:


Key takeaways:

1. Having a state government that expands Medicaid is, of course, overwhelmingly the most important factor: look at Kentucky-WV vs. Tennessee-Virginia, or Arkansas-Missouri.

2. A state government that tries to hide the existence of the exchange-marketplaces from people can (largely) do so, and can cause a huge amount of damage in implementation: look at Wisconsin, Kansas, or Montana.

3. Even in states that did not expand Medicaid and where the state government did not lift a finger to inform people of the exchange-marketplaces, Hispanics have been signing up for insurance in numbers significantly greater than I had expected–look at the Texas-Mexico border.

6. “The effects of John Roberts re-writing the ACA’s Medicaid expansion are felt in Mississippi…. ‘”We work hard at being last”, said Roy Mitchell, the beleaguered executive director of the Mississippi Health Advocacy Program, when we met in Jackson. “Even a dog knows the difference between being tripped over and being kicked”‘. This reflects an infliction of pain and suffering and death than was eminently avoidable. If you’ll forgive me for reiterating, it’s nearly impossible to overstate how terrible this decision was.

Who remains uninsured in 2014:



There are great interactive maps of who has gained coverage under the ACA and who remains uninsured but I couldn't get them to show here.

Notably you are not claiming that the graph is not accurate. Fine. Same graph, different sources.

From the Federal Reserve:

From The Economist magazine:

Do you contend that US manufacturing employment has not been declining for the past 60-70 years? If so, please provide a link that backs up your contention.
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