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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 04:46 PM
Number of posts: 17,588

Journal Archives

Krugman: Corporate shock over the defeat of Cantor.

The Corporates and the Crazies

Jeremy Peters and Shaila Dewan write about corporate shock over the sudden fall of Eric Cantor; it’s further confirmation of the story I told in my last column. Corporations and plutocrats had a good deal going: they bankrolled politicians who talked cultural populism during campaigns, but more or less ignored all that and focused on tax cuts and deregulation after the polls closed. And Cantor fit that profile perfectly.

But now the big money has lost control; the base is demanding politicians who don’t just talk the crazy talk, but walk the crazy walk. For a couple of months the story line was that the money was regaining control, but between Cantor and Cochran that narrative has been blown out of the water.

What’s unclear is what comes next. By pivoting so hard to the GOP, the money has lost much of its leverage over the Democrats — yes, there’s Andrew Cuomo and people like him, but it’s not the same as once it was.

How bad is it? So bad that some establishment Republicans — which means people who work for the corporate side — are pining for another run by, yes, Mitt Romney.


If corporate republicans are thinking about turning back to romney, you know things are bad.

Juan Cole: 7 Myths about the Radical Sunni Advance in Iraq

1. “The Sunni radicals of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) are popular.” They are not. Opinion polling shows that most Iraqi Sunnis are secular-minded. The ISIS is brutal and fundamentalist. Where the Sunnis have rallied to it, it is because of severe discontents with their situation after the fall of the Baath Party in 2003 with the American invasion. The appearance of video showing ISIS massacring police (most of them Sunnis) in Tikrit will severely detract from such popularity as they enjoyed.

2. “ISIS fighters achieved victory after victory in the Sunni north.” While this assertion is true, and towns continue to fall to it, it is simplistic. The central government troops, many of them Shiite, in Mosul and in towns of the north, were unpopular because representatives of a sectarian Shiite regime. The populace of Mosul, including town quarters and clan groups (‘tribes’) on the city’s outskirts, appear to have risen up in conjunction with the ISIS advance, as Patrick Cockburn argues. It was a pluralist urban rebellion, with nationalists of a socialist bent (former Baathists) joining in. In some instances locals were suppressed by the fundamentalist guerrillas and there already have been instances of local Sunnis helping the Iraqi army reassert itself in Salahuddin Province and then celebrating the departure of ISIS.

3. “Iraqi troops were afraid to fight the radical Sunni guerrillas and so ran away.” While the troops did abandon their positions in Mosul and other towns, it isn’t clear why. There are reports that they were ordered to fall back. More important, if this was a popular uprising, then a few thousand troops were facing hundreds of thousands of angry urbanites and were in danger of being overwhelmed. In Afghanistan’s Mazar-i Sharif in 1997 when the Pashtun Taliban took this largely Tajik and Uzbek city, the local populace abided it af few days and then rose up and killed 8,000 Taliban, expelling them from the city. (A year later they returned and bloodily reasserted themselves). Troops cannot always assert themselves against the biopower of urban masses.

5. “The US should intervene with air power against ISIS.” The Sunni radicals are not a conventional army. There are no lines for the US to bomb, few convoys or other obvious targets. To the extent that their advance is a series of urban revolts against the government of PM Nouri al-Maliki, the US would end up bombing ordinary city folk. The Sunnis already have resentments about the Bush administration backing for the Shiite parties after 2003, which produced purges of Sunnis from their jobs and massive unemployment in Sunni areas. For the US to be bombing Sunni towns all these years later on behalf of Mr. al-Maliki would be to invite terrorism against the US. ISIS is a bad actor, but it so far hasn’t behaved like an international terrorist group; it has been oriented to achieving strategic and tactical victories in Syria against the Baath government and the Shiite Alawis, and in Iraq against the Shiite Da’wa Party government. But it could easily morph into an anti-American international terrorist network. The US should avoid actions that would push it in that direction. So far the Baath regime in Syria is winning against the Sunni radicals. The Shiite majority in Iraq can’t easily be overwhelmed by them. Local actors can handle this crisis.


Cole's knowledge always injects some sanity into a chaotic situation.

Countries with the most equal income distributions all do it with the same policies.

High/progressive taxes;
Strong safety net and national health care;
Legal support for strong unions.

The US has none of those. Our taxes are low and regressive; our safety net is weak; our health care system may be improving but it way below the standard of progressive countries; with the enactment of Taft-Hartley we not only do not legally support strong unions we actively undercut them with "right-to-work" states.

The list of those with the most equitable income distributions includes no countries with low/regressive taxes, a porous safety net and weak unions that is on If we are going to deal with our inequality we have to deal with these issues. We don't need to reinvent the "income equality" 'wheel' that has already been proven to work in many progressive countries.

OTOH, the countries on that list that have the best distributions of income in the world, all recognize the value of international trade. Such trade is a much, much larger part of their economies than it is in the US.

74% in Germany
62% in Sweden
51% in Canada
47% in France
37% in the UK
22% in the US

The US cannot effectively deal with inequality by restricting international trade. None of the progressive countries in the world do this.

And the US actually tried this in the 1920's when republicans repeatedly raised tariffs and reduced trade substantially. The result: by the end of the 1920's we had a record level of income inequality. FDR dealt with this by enacting higher/progressive taxes, improving the safety net and creating legal support for unions - just what progressive countries do today. And FDR took steps to increase international trade - just what progressive countries do today.

Add to those: Return the appointment of U.S. Senators by the State Legislatures,

We oppose implementation of the UN Agenda 21 Program which was adopted at the Earth Summit Conference in 1992 purporting to promote a comprehensive program of sustainable development projects, nationally, regionally and locally.

...“climate change” is a political agenda which attempts to control every aspect of our lives. We urge government at all levels to ignore any plea for money to fund global climate change or “climate justice” initiatives.

We urge that the Voter Rights Act of 1965 codified and updated in 1973 be repealed and not reauthorized.

We are resolute in our support of the reversal of Roe v. Wade.

We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We support an immediate and orderly transition to a system of private pensions based on the concept of individual retirement accounts, and gradually phasing out Social Security ...

We demand the immediate repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which we believe to be unconstitutional.

We support land drilling and production operations including hydraulic fracturing.

We oppose the implementation of any Cap and Trade (aka “Cap and Tax”) system through legislation or regulation.

We support the immediate approval and construction of the Keystone XL and other pipelines ...

We also encourage the adoption of a National Right-to-Work Act.

We believe the Minimum Wage Law should be repealed.

We believe Congress should repeal the Federal Reserve Act of 1913 there by abolishing the Federal Reserve Banking System.

We support the withdrawal of the United States from the United Nations and the removal of U.N. headquarters from United States soil.

We oppose foreign aid except in cases of national defense or catastrophic disasters, with Congressional approval.

We support United States withdrawal from the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization and the World Bank.

Pew Poll: Republicans put more value on living with family/friends who share their politics.

To chart the progression of ideological thinking, responses to 10 political values questions asked on multiple Pew Research surveys since 1994 have been combined to create a measure of ideological consistency. Over the past twenty years, the number of Americans in the “tails” of this ideological distribution has doubled from 10% to 21%. Meanwhile, the center has shrunk: 39% currently take a roughly equal number of liberal and conservative positions. That is down from about half (49%) of the public in surveys conducted in 1994 and 2004.

And this shift represents both Democrats moving to the left and Republicans moving to the right
, with less and less overlap between the parties. Today, 92% of Republicans are to the right of the median (middle) Democrat, compared with 64% twenty years ago. And 94% of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican, up from 70% in 1994.

Liberals and conservatives share a passion for politics. They are far more likely than those with more mixed ideological views to discuss politics on a weekly or daily basis. But for many, particularly on the right, those conversations may not include much in the way of opposing opinions.

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of consistent conservatives and about half (49%) of consistent liberals say most of their close friends share their political views. Among those with mixed ideological values, just 25% say the same. People on the right and left also are more likely to say it is important to them to live in a place where most people share their political views, though again, that desire is more widespread on the right (50%) than on the left (35%).


I suspect that one large reason for the conservatives' greater preference to live with around people who share their political views is that those views are largely based on emotion and fear rather than science and history. Living around other folks who share your preference for politics based on emotion and fear leads to fewer confrontations from facts and science.

Swedish Official Praises US -EU Trade Agreement

They also listened as the top trade official from the Swedish embassy sang the praises of the proposed trade agreement that has been on the lips of many American and European officials this year.

But the “real meat” of the agreement, according to Andreas von Uexküll, minister-counselor for trade, is in the long-term regulatory integration that it promises for the world’s two largest economies. Officials hope the ambitious pact will yield common standards on issues like auto crash testing, intellectual property enforcement, poultry processing, financial investment and much more.

Though contentious, this process is essential to knitting both sides more tightly together, Mr. von Uexküll said during the event hosted by the Swedish-American Chamber of Commerce of Georgia at Piedmont Park.

The average American businessperson likely knows less about it than the average European. In Sweden, on the other hand, even labor unions favor the agreement, he said. “Here I get a different impression,” he said.


It's hard to support or oppose something that is still so vague.

"1) nationalist, anti-globalist arguments ... , 2) anti-immigrant politics ..., 3) a white electoral

strategy ..."

Burghart pointed to several emergent themes including: "1) nationalist, anti-globalist arguments in the age of austerity and financial turmoil, 2) anti-immigrant politics as a winning message, and 3) the necessity of a white electoral strategy here at home."

According to Burghart, "For years, far right activists in the United States, particularly those interested in mainstreaming their particular brand of bigotry in the political arena, have looked to Europe as a source of hope and inspiration. They have also developed long-standing multilateral relationships with their European counterparts."

The "European right-wing comes of age," declared the Council of Conservative Citizens (CofCC), one of the largest white nationalist groups in the United States. "Folks, I'm here to tell you that this week's election results in Europe have given me a lot of hope," proclaimed Tennessee white nationalist talk show host, James Edwards. The Virginia white nationalist think-tank, American Renaissance, called the elections "a promising shift to the Right" and hoped that "we are perhaps seeing the first rays of a new dawn after a long night."

David Duke, former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, and former Republican Louisiana State Representative, went straight to the anti-Semitic card. Duke wrote that, "the results of European Parliament elections held last week have at last shown that in many parts of Europe, resistance to the ideologies enforced by Jewish Supremacists — mass immigration and globalization — are being decisively rejected."

I can see why the American far-right would be "ecstatic" over the electoral success of of the European far-right. Their nut jobs are put in force celebrating with their usual brand of bigoted and nativist rhetoric.

The far-right did well in the EU parliament elections. TTIP is not going anywhere.

Both the left and right oppose it.

Marine Le Pen to meet other far-right leaders in move to create anti-EU bloc

France's Front National leader Marine Le Pen will meet other far-right and eurosceptic leaders on Wednesday in an attempt to create a powerful bloc in the European parliament.

Le Pen insisted the party's score was an unqualified victory despite an abstention rate of 57%. She demanded that France call a halt to talks between the European Union and the United States to create a vast free market, known as the Transatlantic Trade Treaty.

"I clearly call on the president of the Republic, firstly the dissolution of the Assemblée Nationale, because you know it is no longer at all representative of the French people," Le Pen said.

"I also demand that he does three things to take Sunday's vote into account: firstly, France halts the transatlantic treaty, secondly, France states its veto of Turkey's entry into the European Union and, thirdly, he nationalises Alstom, contrary to the rules of the European Union, to save this strategic company."


"Vladimir Putin has a lot in common with those very American hawks who hate him the most."

Putin wants to restore international respect (fear of?) Russia. He has been very effective at pursuing Russian national interests, even expanding its national boundaries which is something American hawks can only dream of.

How Russia's president resembles the American hawks who hate him most.

Ever since Vladimir Putin invaded Crimea, American pundits have strained to understand his view of the world. Putin’s been called a Nazi; a tsar; a man detached from reality. But there’s another, more familiar framework that explains his behavior. In his approach to foreign policy, Vladimir Putin has a lot in common with those very American hawks (or “neocons” in popular parlance) who revile him most.

1. Putin is obsessed with the threat of appeasement

To Kristol, McCain, and their ilk, the United States is a nation perennially bullied by adversaries who are tougher, nastier, and more resolute than we are. ... In his (Putin's) view, it’s Russia that has been perennially bullied by tougher and nastier countries—in particular, America and its NATO allies. “They have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed us before an accomplished fact,” he explained in a speech announcing Russia’s incorporation of Crimea. “They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner.” But now, finally, the era of appeasement is over. “Russia found itself in a position it could not retreat from,” Putin said. “If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard.”

2. Putin is principled—so long as those principles enhance national power

For Putin, an anti-Russian government in Kiev is illegitimate regardless of how it takes power. For many American hawks, the same is now true for a pro-Chávez government in Latin America or an Islamist government in the Middle East. ... In the United States, both hawks and doves like to claim that they’re promoting cherished principles like democracy and freedom. The difference is that doves are more willing to acknowledge that these principles can undermine American interests. For most hawks, by contrast, the fight for democratic ideals must serve American power.

3. Putin doesn’t understand economic power

This indifference to the economic aspects of statecraft was a defining feature of the Bush administration, where treasury secretaries played a marginal foreign-policy role ... Seeing “economics” as separate from “foreign policy issues” is precisely what Clinton decried in the 1990s, and it’s the weakness in Putin’s strategy today. But it’s a weakness that many American hawks share. For decades now, Kristol and McCain have insisted that America relentlessly expand its global military footprint and relentlessly boost its defense budget. I’ve never seen either make a serious effort to explain how this should be paid for.


Like American hawks Putin sees a strong and assertive military as a symbol of national power. "For Putin, too, overcoming appeasement requires overcoming the soft, unmanly culture that made Russia unwilling to fight. The fall of the Soviet Union, he argued last year, “was a devastating blow to our nation’s cultural and spiritual codes” that led to “primitive borrowing and attempts to civilize Russia from abroad.”

Like American hawks if Putin likes a government he supports into matter how it came to power. If he does not like it, it matters little how it came to power.

Like our hawks he cares little about economics and the quality of people's lives. Pressuring or invading weak neighbors - Granada, Panama, Georgia, Ukraine - is more their style since it enhances national power and prestige, at least in the eyes of fellow hawks.

Putin has been very effective in pursuing Russia's "national interest". If he has been similarly successful at enacting new domestic social legislation or progressive taxes, I have missed it. What he has done domestically is sign repressive legislation against gays, dissidents and separatist movements within Russia. IOW, he has been very effective from a "hawk" point of view but he is no liberal.

At 1.1% of GDP Ukraine's military budget is as low as Sweden, Denmark, Germany

and most other European countries. (1.1% in Sweden, 1.2% in Germany, 1.4% in Denmark) And, of course, Ukraine's GDP is relatively small.


By comparison, the US and Russia spend between 4% and 5% of their much larger GDP's on their militaries.

In terms of military budgets and income equality Ukraine is much more "European" than the US or Russia but at times like this having a relatively poorly funded military must be a pain.

Depending on where one thinks the bulk of the fighters and weapons are coming from, the military is being asked to either attack their fellow Ukrainians (something, as you point out that they may have been reluctant to do under Yanukovich) who have stumbled upon and quickly learned how to use sophisticated weapons or go up against an extremely well-armed fighters backed by a very powerful military.
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