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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
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He is not going to release an unfinished agreement here any more than with the Iranian agreement.

I loved Woodrow Wilson's #1 point in his 14 points.

Open covenants of peace, openly arrived at, after which there shall be no private international understandings of any kind but diplomacy shall proceed always frankly and in the public view.


However, the UK and France would not even follow this principle during the WWI peace negotiations and I have not seen any evidence that the world as a whole has proven willing to live by this. In the real world you can't go around releasing everything that everyone is saying in the negotiations unless you want international negotiations to grind to a halt everywhere. I suppose the US or some other important countries could refuse to conduct any more negotiations until Wilson's point was followed. But I'm not sure that Democrats want a world without international negotiations in which disputes are handled by other, less diplomatic, means.

The republicans called for release of information on the Iranian negotiations because they did not trust Obama and they wanted to blow the negotiations up. I am glad that did not happen but they were right (in a warped sort of way) to try that tactic. It would have wrecked the agreement if they could have gotten one side or the other to release the text of the negotiations while they were still ongoing.

Republicans complained about FDR's 'secret tariff agreements' in the campaigns against him in 1936 and 1940. "Secret" trade negotiations are nothing new.

Blame it on FDR and his Reciprocal Tariff Act of 1934 and International Trade Organization in 1944.

Reciprocal Tariff Act of 1934

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.

After the Civil War, Democrats were generally the party of trade liberalization, while Republicans were generally for higher tariffs. The RTAA marked a sharp departure from the era of protectionism in the United States. American duties on foreign products declined from an average of 46% in 1934 to 12% by 1962.

The administration decided to take advantage of having a Democratic-controlled Congress and Presidency to push through the RTAA. ... In 1936 and 1940, the Republican Party ran on a platform of repealing the tariff reductions secured under the RTAA.

How RTAA changed the world

As American duties dropped off dramatically, global markets also increasingly liberalized. World trade expanded at a rapid pace. The RTAA, though a law of the United States, provided the first widespread system of guidelines for bilateral trade agreements. The United States and the European nations began avoiding beggar thy neighbour policies (which pursued national trade objectives at the expense of other nations). Instead, countries started to realize the gains from trade cooperation.


The ITO:

The original intention was to create a third institution to handle the trade side of international economic cooperation, joining the two “Bretton Woods” institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Over 50 countries participated in negotiations to create an International Trade Organization (ITO) as a specialized agency of the United Nations. The ITO Charter was ambitious. It extended beyond world trade disciplines, to include rules on employment, commodity agreements, restrictive business practices, international investment, and services. The aim was to create the ITO at a UN Conference on Trade and Employment in Havana, Cuba in 1947.

The Havana conference began on 21 November 1947, less than a month after GATT was signed. The ITO Charter was finally agreed in Havana in March 1948, but ratification in some national legislatures proved impossible. The most serious opposition was in the US Congress, even though the US government had been one of the driving forces. In 1950, the United States government announced that it would not seek Congressional ratification of the Havana Charter, and the ITO was effectively dead.


FDR inherited high tariffs and little trade from the republican trio of Harding, Coolidge and Hoover. If he had left things alone, we would probably not have the 'free trade' we have today. Perhaps we are lucky that republican won back control of congress before US participation in FDR's International Trade Organization came up for approval. republicans, of course, refused to even bring it up for a vote.

"Obama is one of the bad guys. He is an actor. A salesperson. His job is to come out and trick

the population ..."

That is certainly one real possibility. And one the majority of the republican base, which opposes the TPP and does not trust Obama, endorses. Closely tied to that theory would be the belief that his goal as president is to enrich himself and his family which is his motivation to be a 'bad guy', 'actor', 'salesperson', 'trickster', etc.

Up to now I had viewed Obama as sometimes wrong (IMHO), but not as inherently evil and corrupt. But I don't know him personally. He could be all those things.

Other than the 'bad guy' theory, the only other reasonable explanation is that he really believes that the 'free trade agreements' with Canada, Mexico, Australia, Chile, Singapore and Peru needed to be 'renegotiated' and the WTO rules applied to the other countries improved upon.

Here you go:

Democratic support for both treaties is stronger than that of Republicans: 60% of Democrats see TTIP as a good thing compared with 44% of Republicans, while 59% of Democrats look favorably on TPP compared with 49% of Republicans.


Poll: conservative and moderate republicans oppose fast track (for the TPP) by a ratio of 85 percent or higher.

On the question of fast-track authority, 62 percent of respondent opposed the idea, with 43 percent “strongly” opposing it. Broken down by political affiliation, only Democrats that identify as “liberal” strongly favor the idea. Predictably, a strong Republican majority oppose giving the president such authority, with both conservative and moderates oppose it by a ratio of 85 percent or higher.


"Our political class ... has been pulled so far right ... it will not tell the complicated truth

about the consequences of conflict, about a globalised economy, about our interconnected world, a world that we cannot simply step off, or stop."

... all the problems we face around education, housing, employment and health on to one group of people. The fact that it’s not true, that immigrants are not the source of our problems, no longer matters. The “tell it as it is” crowd don’t tell it as it is at all. They are cowards. As we have veered rightwards, pulled there often by out-and-out racists, the only stance seen as vote-winning is to be ever more “tough” on immigrants.

The far right’s fantasy of pulling up the drawbridge to stop this great flow of desperate humanity in transit is just that: a fantasy. The politician who promises control of all borders, and pledges to further strengthen that control by withdrawing further from Europe, is selling a simplistic idea. This idea is now indeed itself Europe-wide, as the toxic language around immigration has moved from the margin into the mainstream.

Many drown anonymously. Their stories on the whole do not interest us, as they are too complex. Too many countries are involved, too much conflict, too many journeys push them out to sea. ... We feel we have no responsibility to them, still less understanding of who they are. They are simply “other”. The discourse of the BNP, the EDL, and now Ukip – which, whatever it says, attracts out-and-out racists – has contaminated public life.

How did we end up in this moral vacuum where we lose any sense of connection to other human beings? It’s fairly easy: people who aren’t human beings don’t need any rights, or any sympathy, so we dehumanise them via language both political and personal. We talk of them as disease, contagion, a virus. They are not us. They cannot become us.

This is an excellent opinion piece not only in its indictment of the far-right and its anti-immigrants sentiments (rooted in racism), but its condemnation of mainstream parties that have been pulled to the right by the constant, simplistic drumbeat of anti-immigrants pressure from the far-right.

The far-right does love to avoid 'complicated truths', preferring to dumb things down to a populist "US vs THEM" message that seems to work well for them at election time. The 'complications' of an interconnected world - immigration, climate change, trade, communications, etc. - can all be solved, in their minds, by 'building a higher wall to keep the world out.

I would disagree however that for "Tory and Labour you could substitute Republican and Democrat, and for Mediterranean migrants, substitute Latin American migrants". There is certainly a tremendous amount of anti-immigrant sentiment in the republican party but I don't think the Democratic Party has been dragged as far to the right on immigration policy as Labour may have been. Polls in the US show that a more pro-immigrant policy is actually quite popular with American voters but the republican party - particularly its tea party wing - is able to block any legislation on immigration reform.

Thanks for finding and posting this excellent article, Surya Gaytri.

Not sure what to make of this: Poll shows that Democrats prefer a candidate who compromises

with other party. Independents largely agree with Democrats on this, but republicans prefer a candidate who will not compromise.

Democratic voters, in particular, place value on candidates who will make compromises: 63% say this, compared with 31% who prioritize sticking to core values. Republican voters, by contrast, are more likely to value candidates who stick to their core values (57% vs. 35%).

GOP Voters Prefer a Candidate With 'Proven Record' to One With 'New Ideas'Within the party coalitions there are differences on these measures among each candidate’s supporters, particularly within the GOP. Among Republican voters, those who say there is a good chance they would vote for Bush are more supportive of a candidate who would compromise with the other party than are supporters of Cruz, Carson, Walker, or Paul.


This stark partisan difference could be a sign that Democrats know that compromise is an essential part of governing in a democracy, while republicans are the party of "NO" and "my way or the highway.

Or this partisan difference in attitudes towards the idea of compromise could be a perceived as a sign of weakness among Democrats and strength of conviction (though not based on logic, evidence or history) among republicans.

That Paul Krugman does not know what he is talking about when he disagrees with that assertion.

... each party is quite unified on major policy issues — and these unified positions are very far from each other. The huge, substantive gulf between the parties will be reflected in the policy positions of whomever they nominate, and will almost surely be reflected in the actual policies adopted by whoever wins.

How did the parties get this far apart? Political scientists suggest that it has a lot to do with income inequality. As the wealthy grow richer compared with everyone else, their policy preferences have moved to the right — and they have pulled the Republican Party ever further in their direction. Meanwhile, the influence of big money on Democrats has at least eroded a bit, now that Wall Street, furious over regulations and modest tax hikes, has deserted the party en masse. The result is a level of political polarization not seen since the Civil War.

On one side, suppose that Ms. Clinton is indeed the Democratic nominee. If so, you can be sure that she’ll be accused, early and often, of insincerity, of not being the populist progressive she claims to be.

On the other side, suppose that the Republican nominee is a supposed moderate like Jeb Bush or Marco Rubio. In either case we’d be sure to hear many assertions from political pundits that the candidate doesn’t believe a lot of what he says. But in their cases this alleged insincerity would be presented as a virtue, not a vice — sure, Mr. Bush is saying crazy things about health care and climate change, but he doesn’t really mean it, and he’d be reasonable once in office. Just like his brother.


Of course, Krugman largely discussed the difference in the parties on economic issues.

We all know how different the parties are on social issues.

Head of rebel special forces detachment admits Russian tanks, troops 'decisive in eastern Ukraine


Russian tanks and soldiers have been “decisive” in winning key battles against government troops in eastern Ukraine, the commander of a separatist “special forces” detachment has admitted. The Kremlin denies sending men and military vehicles to fight in Ukraine, but Dmitry Sapozhnikov told the BBC that regular army units sent from Russia and commanded by Russian officers were key in seizing the strategic town of Debaltseve in February.

Mr Sapozhnikov, a Russian from St Petersburg who is now on leave in his home town, went to fight in Ukraine in October and led a detachment of volunteer “special forces” fighters under rebel control. But “all operations, especially large-scale ones, are led by Russian officers, by Russian generals,” he said in an interview with the BBC. “They develop plans together with our commanders ... and then we fulfill the orders.”

Asked if the presence of Russian soldiers had been decisive, Mr Sapozhnikov replied: “Of course. Russian generals, Russian colonels. They decided everything.” The Russian soldiers from Buryatiya had gone willingly to fight in Ukraine, he said. “They said that they knew exactly where they were being sent, but officially it was, 'We are going on exercises.'” The account tallies with those given by Russian soldiers and their families, who have described how regular army units are dispatched “on exercises” to southern Russia, and then sent across the border into Ukraine.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman to Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, said once again on Tuesday that no Russian servicemen had been in Ukraine. “We emphatically deny that,” he said. Mr Putin said in December that only volunteer Russian fighters answering “a call of the heart” had gone to Ukraine to support the rebels.


Nemtsov Allies Plan to Publish Report on Russian Soldiers in Ukraine

A report being prepared by supporters of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov claims that Moscow has started discharging its soldiers from the army before sending them to Ukraine and then denying compensation to the families of men who were killed in order to cover up Russia's involvement in the conflict.

The report, which Nemtsov was working on before he was shot and killed in Moscow on Feb. 27, will be completed and published next month by his allies, the politician's friend and associate Ilya Yashin wrote on his Facebook page Monday.

"We have managed to communicate with people who were Nemtsov's sources," Yashin said. "They were very much afraid to speak while he was alive. The murder of Boris, as you understand, did not give them new courage, so they were reluctant to get in contact."

According to these sources, Russia's involvement in Ukraine was marked by two "waves" of increased military casualties, Yashin said. The first surge in casualties came last summer, when scores of Russian troops moved across the border and helped secure an advance by separatist forces. The second wave came in January and February of this year, during the large-scale fighting that preceded the signing of the so-called Minsk II agreement on Feb. 11.


Liberalism in Europe 'facing its biggest fight' against the far-right and 'the politics of fear'

Following a meeting of Liberal international in Oxford, Catherine Bearder, Hans van Baalen, Graham Watson and Cecilia Wikström write that liberals must stand together against the rise of the far-right and the 'politics of fear'.

Liberalism in western Europe is facing its biggest fight since the 1930s. Last May's European parliament elections showed just how steep the mountain we have to climb is. The forces of xenophobia and racism - the populist right across Europe - polled strongly in the UK, France and Italy and in many smaller EU member states.

As liberals, we will be standing together against the racists, the xenophobes and those who believe Europe needs to return to its fragmented past. Liberals are naturally internationalist; it is in our DNA. We view the world as a global stage, not one subdivided by borders. We see friendly cooperation with our neighbours as the very key to unlocking a more secure, sustainable and prosperous future for Europe and the rest of the world.

At an international Liberal conference last week, Grigory Yavlinsky, a prominent Russian liberal and founder of opposition party Yabloko, said the fight for liberalism in Russia against Putin is alive and kicking, but is facing an increasingly tough battle. What's more, Putin is now more determined than ever to put a block on liberalism across the whole of the continent by funding anti-EU parties, putting up barriers not just in his own backyard but further afield too.

We need to spread the message that liberalism is a home for people who don't seek to brand migrants as 'other', for people who believe a Europe without the EU would be weaker and for people who see a reversion to separatism as the very worst outcome. Only in countries with strong civic values and political engagement are the politics of fear and blame denied a wave of popular support. It is up to us as liberals to keep making the internationalist case.


The rise of the 'politics of fear', of branding immigrants as 'others' who should be feared, of xenophobia, racism and separatism (teapublican divisive tactics that we have all experienced) are all things that American liberals have in common with those in Europeans. I am not so sure that we share the European commitment to internationalism, at least not to the same degree, which probably results for decades of experience as the "world's policeman" with its negative consequences. European liberals may see internationalism more as FDR saw it - as a way to tie the world together and promote shared peace and prosperity.

Europe and America seem to also share a decline of a belief that 'friendly cooperation with our neighbors' (down the street or across the border), rather than every man - or country - for itself with its reliance on the mythical 'invisible hand to produce the greatest good, will lead to shared, sustainable prosperity. The more conservative "my country first" (a variant of "me first") seems to be increasingly replacing the "we are all in this together" mentality that was dominant during more liberal eras in both places. There is no evidence that an 'invisible hand' will actually produce the greatest good when many 'me first' actors (individuals or countries) compete, rather than cooperate, with each other.

Germany pays their autoworkers much more, yet manufacture twice as many vehicles

(per capita - 1/4 of US' population, 1/2 of our auto production). In 2014 US vehicle production was 11.6 million, while Germany's was 5.9 million. Paying workers less, which our employers always want to do, is not the answer. German automakers could show GM and Ford why that is true.

Oddly, the US is one of the few countries that manufactures more commercial vehicles (7,407,601 in 2014) than passenger cars (4,253,098). Canada is another (1.5 million vs 900,000).

Another fact, there is a strong positive correlation between the degree of unionization in a country and having a positive balance of trade (more exports than imports).

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