Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Tody's Links

1---Why Hillary Lost

In a May 1 article titled “Why did Trump Win? New research by Democrats offers a worrisome answer,” Washington Post columnist Greg Sargent cites poll data showing that Trump’s election was the product of widespread economic hardship in the working class and popular opposition to the pro-corporate policies of the Democratic Party.

The poll, commissioned by the Democratic Party-linked firm Priorities USA, was conducted in the working class suburbs outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Detroit, Michigan, as well as in Tampa, Florida. All three of these traditional “swing states” supported Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, but swung for Trump in 2016. The poll targeted two types of voters: those who voted for Obama in 2012 but for Trump in 2016 (“Obama-Trump voters”) and those who voted for Obama in 2012 but did not vote in 2016 (“drop-off voters”).

The picture that emerges from the poll is of a working class that is under tremendous financial strain, is growing disillusioned with both parties, and is deeply opposed to cuts in social programs such as health care.

“A key commonality” of these voters is that “they are struggling economically,” the pollsters conclude. Of Obama-Trump voters, 50 percent say their income is falling behind the cost of living and 31 percent say their income is just equal to rises in the cost of living. Conditions are even worse among drop-off voters. Forty-three percent say their income is falling behind the cost of living and 49 percent say their income is only staying even with the cost of living—that is, 92 percent are either falling behind or barely staying afloat.

In a confused and contradictory manner, Obama-Trump voters express the growth of social opposition to the political establishment from the left. According to these voters, the government’s most important priorities should be protecting Social Security and Medicare (85 percent for both), creating good-paying jobs (84 percent) and providing everyone with access to affordable health care (80 percent).

The poll shows these voters’ lowest priority is building a wall between the US and Mexico. They are least concerned that Trump will “be too close to Putin and won’t stand up to Putin.” They are substantially more concerned that Trump will involve the US in foreign wars and will put the interests of corporate executives ahead of working people.

Among drop-off voters, 87 percent support raising taxes on corporations, 89 percent support infrastructure spending, 79 percent support raising the minimum wage, 75 percent support raising taxes on the rich and 73 percent support paid family leave for child care. Drop-off voters are by far most concerned with the economy and access to health care. Only 6 percent say Russia is the most important issue, with 5 percent citing immigration and 2 percent citing terrorism/national security.

As their economic conditions deteriorate, those polled view the policies of the Democratic Party as favoring the wealthy. The Washington Post’s Sargent notes, “One finding from the polling stands out: A shockingly large percentage of these Obama-Trump voters said Democrats’ economic policies will favor the wealthy—twice the percentage that said the same about Trump. I was also permitted to view video of some focus group activity, which showed Obama-Trump voters offering sharp criticism of Democrats on the economy.”

Sargent explained that when focus group respondents were asked what the Democratic Party stands for, they responded: “the one percent” and “the status quo.” Among those who voted for Obama in 2012 but didn’t vote in 2016, the most common reasons given for abstaining include: “It makes no difference,” “I did not like either candidate,” “I voted for Bernie Sanders in the primary; I couldn’t support Clinton for the general election,” and “I’m tired of voting for the lesser of two evils.”

These poll results confirm what the World Socialist Web Site stressed in its initial analysis of the US election results: Clinton’s loss was the product of mass abstention by workers—and particularly African American workers—in key industrial cities such as Cleveland, Detroit and Milwaukee, plus swings by all racial groups toward the Republican candidate in 2016 compared with 2012. Clinton’s claim that she lost the election due to misogyny is refuted by the fact that exit polls show the Democratic Party lost the votes of over a million working class women from 2012 to 2016.

The American working class does not hate Hillary Clinton because of her gender, it hates her because she embodies, both personally and politically, everything rotten about American capitalism. More specifically, the dislike of Clinton expresses the growing perception that the Democratic Party is the most naked representative of the banks and corporations....

As the chasm between rich and poor widened in the subsequent decades, the Democrats began to abandon even the pretense of appealing to working class voters on the basis of a program of social reform. Increasingly tied to Wall Street and the military-intelligence agencies and increasingly unpopular within the working class, the Democratic Party sought to build a broader electoral base in the privileged upper-middle class, where the politics of race, gender and sexual preference dominate

2--Frontline--The Staggering Death Toll of Mexico’s Drug War (archive)

Last week, the Mexican government released new data showing that between 2007 and 2014 — a period that accounts for some of the bloodiest years of the nation’s war against the drug cartels — more than 164,000 people were victims of homicide. Nearly 20,000 died last year alone, a substantial number, but still a decrease from the 27,000 killed at the peak of fighting in 2011.

3--Twenty Truths About Marine Le Pen

4--Mission Creep: U.S. Has 1,000 Troops on the Ground in Syria

President Trump told columnist Michael Goodwin of the New York Post last week: “We’re not going into Syria. Our policy hasn’t changed. We’re not going into Syria.”
But the U.S. is already in Syria.
The Pentagon has roughly 1,000 boots on the ground in Syria advising rebel forces and fighting the Islamic State — maybe more

June 21, 2012
The New York Times reports that a “small number of CIA officers” are helping opposition fighters in Turkey get arms, paid for by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, for use in Syria.
June 13, 2013
The Times reports that the U.S., for the first time, is directly supplying the rebels in Syria with “small arms and ammunition.”
September 18, 2014
Congress approves President Obama’s plan to train and arm Syrian rebels. The Senate vote was 78-22. Just 10 Democrats and 12 Republicans voted “no.”

April 25, 2016
An additional 250 Special Operations forces are being sent to Syria, President Obama announces.
December 10, 2016
An additional 200 Special Operations forces are being sent to Syria, Sec. Carter says.
March 8, 2017
U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Joseph Anderson tells a House committee that 2,500 ground combat troops are being sent to Kuwait to be used for military operations in Iraq and Syria. It is the first time conventional forces are made available to be sent to Syria.
 March 9, 2017
An additional 400 troops, including Marines and Army Rangers, are being sent to Syria, the Times reports....

In addition to more U.S. troops in Syria, the Pentagon appears to be gathering additional forces near the country. Several publications reported that a large “ro-ro” ship – short for “roll-on, roll-off” arrived at the port of Aqaba in southern Jordan on April 7, the same day that 59 U.S. Tomahawk missiles struck a Syrian airbase, and that it remained there for 40 hours, unloading.
The ship, called the “Liberty Passion,” is 656 feet long and capable of carrying 250 army tanks.  It had departed from Livorno, Italy, and made stops in Romania and at Port Said, Egypt, before arriving in Jordan.

5-- Breslow: Traders don't know what's going on

6--Rebels’ Once Again Sabotage Syria Peace Talks

On May 3, Syrian “moderate opposition” members said that they were suspending participating in peace talks on Syria held in the Kazakh capital of Astana.
“The rebel delegation is suspending the meetings because of the violent air strikes on civilians. The suspension will continue until shelling stops across all Syria,” AFP quoted a rebel source in Astana.
“The delegation has suspended its participation after presenting a memorandum for a total commitment to stopping (government) bombardments,” Reuters qouted, Ahmad Ramadan, a spokesman for the opposition Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

7---Putin: I discussed de-escalation zones in Syria with Trump, Erdogan

8--Syria's soft partition

In the event of a de-facto partition of Syria which is often mentioned in Western media, US and its allies will get a strategically important region. It is through Deir Ezzor that the proposed gas pipeline from Qatar is supposed to run. Its approximate route takes it from Iraq through al-Kemal toward Deir Ezzor, then toward Raqqa and then to the Turkish border.
These US and allied operations show that Washington and its Persian Gulf allies and Istanbul have never been interested in combating international terrorism. Their interest is only money and power, and they are indifferent to human suffering and casualties.

. But it is first and foremost Syria’s oil extraction center. The Deir Ezzor province is home to Syria’s largest oil deposit, the Al-Omar. For ISIS, the city and the province are of particular value since the deposits there contain the highly valuable light sweet crude usable in the production of gasoline and diesel fuel, even using homebrew methods. As of October 2015, ISIS extracted up to 40 thousand barrels of crude a day. The largest Al-Tanak oil fields yielded up to 12 thousand barrels a day, while Al-Omar produced up to 9 thousand barrels of top-quality crude

9--Syria's terrorist stronghold of Raqqa

10--US anti-missile systems in Eastern Europe violate INF Treaty - Russian foreign ministry

11--China demands THAAD deployment to South Korea be stopped immediately

China demands THAAD deployment to South Korea be stopped immediately

China calls for immediately stopping the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Geng Shuang said on Tuesday.

China’s position on the THAAD issue has not changed," he said. "We oppose the deployment of the US missile system to South Korea and call on all parties to immediately stop this process. We are ready to take necessary measures to protect our interests," Geng Shuang added.

Colonel Rob Manning, US Forces Korea Spokesman, told TASS earlier that "the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system is operational and has the ability to intercept North Korean missiles and defend the Republic of the Korea."

12--The west lives in debt-- Putin

13--Who created ISIS?  Putin


Jordan not only supported the armed insurgency in neighboring Syria, Jordan is a part of that coalition which is now destroying Yemen, basically bombing that country. Jordan also provided direct support for the American-led coalition in its so-called war on ISIS [Daesh], which still looks more like a war on the Syrian government army."

Middle Class Contracted in U.S. Over 2 Decades, Study Finds

only 16% americans have "great deal or "quite a bit " of confidence in national news media

Poll: 67% Of Americans Say The Democrats Are Out Of Touch With Their Concerns

It's also worth noting that National Security Advisor, Lt General HR McMaster, recently appointed Ms. Dina Powell to his team as deputy national security adviser for strategy.  Readers may wonder what qualifications Ms. Powell brings to her new job and what her background says about Washington's overall Asia strategy. The New York Times helps to unravel this mystery:

"Ms. Powell was asked to take the job by General McMaster, who wants to put a greater emphasis at the council on developing and implementing strategy. Although she does not have extensive experience on national security issues, Ms. Powell has spent 15 years in government...

Ms. Powell was recently the president of the Goldman Sachs Foundation. During her years at Goldman Sachs, she worked with Gary Cohn, Mr. Trump’s senior economic policy adviser, and she is expected to continue her role working on the administration’s economic initiatives. ("Dina Powell, Donald Trump Aide, Named to National Security Post", New York Times)

Nice, eh? So for all the people who thought that National Security advisors were supposed to provide advice on national security, (as in, potential threats to the American people or to the country) Wrong. National Security advisors are supposed to pry-open doors to new markets, implement coercive strategies for forcing foreign countries to comply with Washington's neoliberal agenda, and generally pave the way for more profitmaking on Wall Street. In other words, national security has nothing to do with security at all, it's about money and power.

See how this all fits with the pivot to Asia theme? The military leads the way, and then G-Sax and all their money-grubbing friends follow in behind to pick the carcass clean. "Cha-ching": That's the happy sound of your new National Security Advisor ringing in the new year

next--restore its sovereignty and strengthen its democracy. Ambrose Evans Pritchard summed it up like this:
“Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error.”

“In a new survey by the Pew Research Council, half of the registered voters surveyed (51%) said they think the future for the next generation will be worse, while just 24% said life will be better for the next generation. The survey indicated this pessimistic sentiment is spread across racial and economic lines.”
Optimism Is a Casualty in Campaign 2016, Wall Street Journal 
The PEW Research Center’s latest survey titled: “Campaign Exposes Fissures Over Issues, Values and How Life Has Changed in the U.S” sheds some light on these and other questions. Here are a few excerpts from the piece:
“Among GOP voters, fully 75% of those who support Donald Trump for the Republican presidential nomination say life for people like them has gotten worse…”(a much higher percentage than for any other candidate)…..



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