Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Today's links

The most vocal Russiagate promoters are in too deep, & incapable of acknowledging that their conspiracy theory has failed. I don't expect the Mueller Report to change that. The good news is that they'll have a much harder time enrolling their audiences in their own self-delusion. aaron mate 

 

 

 

1--- Beyond Economics: Fears of Cultural Displacement Pushed the White Working Class to Trump | PRRI/The Atlantic Report

 

Must Read

https://www.prri.org/research/white-working-class-attitudes-economy-trade-immigration-election-donald-trump/


2--YPG terrorists continue to dig ditches, tunnels in northern Syria



3--Joe's Comeback--Joseph Stalin’s approval rating hits historic high – poll  

 

4--The Dems are in worse shape than you thought 


Stan Greenberg, the Democratic pollster, writes in his Prospect essay:
The Democrats don’t have a “white working-class problem.” They have a “working-class problem,” which progressives have been reluctant to address honestly or boldly. The fact is that Democrats have lost support with all working-class voters across the electorate, including the Rising American Electorate of minorities, unmarried women, and millennials. This decline contributed mightily to the Democrats’ losses in the states and Congress and to the election of Donald Trump.
Greenberg voiced an exceptionally sharp critique of his own party and its candidates. First, he takes on Barack Obama:
Working-class Americans pulled back from Democrats in this last period of Democratic governance because of President Obama’s insistence on heralding economic progress and the bailout of the irresponsible elites, while ordinary people’s incomes crashed and they continued to struggle financially.
Hillary Clinton does not escape Greenberg’s wrath:
In what may border on campaign malpractice, the Clinton campaign chose in the closing battle to ignore the economic stress not just of the working-class women who were still in play, but also of those within the Democrats’ own base, particularly among the minorities, millennials, and unmarried women.
Greenberg does not stop there, shifting his focus from individual Democratic politicians to the Democratic Party itself:
Past supporters
pulled back because of the Democrats’ seeming embrace of multinational trade agreements that have cost American jobs. The Democrats have moved from seeking to manage and champion the nation’s growing immigrant diversity to seeming to champion immigrant rights over American citizens’. Instinctively and not surprisingly, the Democrats embraced the liberal values of America’s dynamic and best-educated metropolitan areas, seeming not to respect the values or economic stress of older voters in small-town and rural America. Finally, the Democrats also missed the economic stress and social problems in the cities themselves and in working-class suburbs.
Along parallel lines, three analysts at the pro-Democratic Center for American Progress, Robert Griffin, John Halpin and Ruy Teixeira, argue that:
Rather than debating whether Democrats should appeal to white working-class voters or voters of color — both necessary components of a successful electoral coalition, particularly at the state and local level — a more important question emerges: Why are Democrats losing support and seeing declining turnout from working-class voters of all races in many places?
Griffin, Halpin and Teixeira argue that
Democrats allowed themselves to become the party of the status quo — a status quo perceived to be elitist, exclusionary, and disconnected from the entire range of working-class concerns, but particularly from those voters in white working-class areas.
In the 2016 campaign, they continue,
rightly or wrongly, Hillary Clinton’s campaign exemplified a professional-class status quo that failed to rally enough working-class voters of color and failed to blunt the drift of white working-class voters to Republicans.

5--Double dealing US working with Turkey to create Syria safe zone, Jeffrey says

 


The U.S. is working with Turkey to establish a safe zone without the presence of the People's Protection Units (YPG), a top U.S. official said Monday.
U.S. Special Representative for Syria Engagement and the special envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition, James Jeffrey said that Washington acknowledges Turkey's concerns about the YPG, which is the Syrian offshoot of the PKK terrorist group.
Jeffrey highlighted that the two countries have been and continue to be geostrategic partners.

 

6--Kim tells Moon to stop following washington's orders

 

The authorities in South Korea must be an interested party that defends the [Korean] people’s interests rather than acting as meddling mediators or catalysts. They must agree and coordinate with our position and commitment, [showing] practical action rather than words. [. . .]”

This was the tough message sent by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a policy speech before the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA) on Apr. 12. It included a mixture of some things worth consideration and other things that were inappropriate.

 "meddling catalyst"  Kim brushes up the powerlessness of South to effect changes in NK-ROK relationship


The authorities in South Korea must be an interested party that defends the [Korean] people’s interests rather than acting as meddling mediators or catalysts,” Kim said at the time.

In an Apr. 11 summit with US President Donald Trump, Moon declared that “promoting inter-Korean relations will help the denuclearization talks” and said he planned to “pursue the staging of an inter-Korean summit in the near future.” In response, Trump asked him to share the North’s position as soon as possible based on what the South ascertained through the summit or inter-Korean discussions....

The authorities in South Korea must be an interested party that defends the [Korean] people’s interests rather than acting as meddling mediators or catalysts,” Kim said at the time.

Moon said that he “praises and very much welcomes Chairman Kim’s unchanging commitment with his repeated affirmations of his firm commitment to denuclearization and the establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula and his statement of his intent to resume North Korea-US dialogue and hold a third North Korea-US summit.” “The South Korean government has a clear and firm commitment to systematically implementing the terms of inter-Korean joint statements, whatever difficulties may arise,” he added.
http://english.hani.co.kr/arti/english_edition/e_northkorea/890265.html

7--How the Rich Screwed the Poor: Mark Blyth

 

8--The National Security State - Gore Vidal 03-18-1998

 

9--Jimmy Carter calls US most warlike nation in history

 

Charging the US with being "the most warlike nation in the history of the world," Carter explained that his country had a habit of trying to force other countries around the globe to "adopt our American principles." According to Carter's estimate, the US has only had 16 years at peace in its 242 year history.

Carter pointed out that while China was building thousands of miles of high-speed rail, the US "wasted, I think, $3 trillion" on defence spending. "It's more than you can imagine. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that's why they're ahead of us. In almost every conceivable way," the former president stressed.

"If you take $3 trillion and put it in American infrastructure, you'd probably have $2 trillion left over. We'd have high-speed railroad. We'd have bridges that aren't collapsing. We'd have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of, say, South Korea or Hong Kong," Carter estimated.

10--US ‘most warlike nation in history’: Ex-US President Jimmy Carter

 

Some experts say China could overtake the US as the world’s largest economy by 2030 if current growth trends continue.
The former Democratic president said China was getting ahead of the US because Washington has been at war with other countries for most of its history.

Carter—who normalized diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing in 1979—suggested that China’s rapid growth had been facilitated by government investment and helped by peace.
“Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody?” Carter asked. “None. And we have stayed at war.”

He said the US has only enjoyed 16 years of peace in its 242-year history, making the country “the most warlike nation in the history of the world,” Carter said. This is, he said, because of Washington’s tendency to force other nations to “adopt our American principles.”
Carter said that China, in contrast to the US, had made massive economic progress for maintaining peace. “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country?” he asked

 

Copious Notes on Obama's pathetic legacy of homicide, grand larceny and abject subservience to Wall Street.

Obama, the Nobel laureate, casts himself as a New Internationalist, a chief executive of the global empire, more eager to consult with European heads of state than members of Congress, even of his own party....  He has a majestic sense of his own certitude. The president often seems captivated by the nobility of his intentions, offering himself up as a kind of savior of the eroding American Imperium.

What was running through their minds when the mists finally parted to reveal that Obama was implementing cunning tracings of Bush-era policies on everything from the indefinite detention of uncharged prisoners in the war on terror to raids on medical marijuana distributors in states where medical pot has been legalized? What, indeed.
https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/13/the-president-who-wasnt-there-barack-obamas-legacy-of-impotence/

The destruction of the independent nations of Iraq, Libya and Syria and the worsening of the chaos in the Middle East
President Obama has sided with Saudi Arabia and other Islamic countries in their efforts to spread Wahhabi extremism around the world 
The Obama administration has extended the neocon-inspired politics of chaos to Ukraine and Russia, and it has rekindled a Cold War II with Russia 

Mr. Obama seemed satisfied to passively pursue the same nuclear “modernization” program that involved the development of a new set of American nuclear weapons, initiated under the previous George W. Bush administration.
nstead, he seemingly embarked on the same nuclear program, which had apparently not been stopped at all, to develop an array of new nuclear weapons that made contemplation of their use more acceptable (smaller, more accurate, less lethal), just as the Bush II administration had done before. In other words, Mr. Obama has prepared the United States to get engaged in “small nuclear wars” in the future. This is quite a “legacy”!

Domestically, income and wealth inequalities have continued to rise to high levels and poverty to increase under the Obama administration
On Jan. 20, 2014, a Gallup poll found that two-thirds of Americans were dissatisfied with the way income and wealth are distributed in the U.S. —People are therefore vaguely aware that there is something fundamentally wrong with the way the economic system works, and they are right to think that the economy is rigged against the interests of the majority and in favor of special interests.
According to a new Pew Research Center analysis of public data, the American middle class is shrinking, its proportion among U.S. households falling from 55 percent in 2000 to 51 percent in 2014. [N.B.: An American middle class family of two adults and two children, in 2014, is one earning a minimum of $48,083]. This shift has produced a wave of discontent throughout the United States.

Indeed, for the last fifteen years, from 1999 to 2014, the median income of American households globally has declined by 8 percent.
-The median incomes of lower-income families fell by 10 percent during the same period, from $26,373 to $23,811.
– The median income of middle-income households decreased by 6 percent, from $77,898 to $72,919.
– And, reflecting the large inequalities even among upper-income households, the median income in that group also fell by 7 percent, even though, as a group, the relative importance of this segment of American households went from 17 to 20 percent. The group’s median income fell from $186,424 in 1999 to $173,207 in 2014.
In fact, the only segment of the U.S. population that has benefited from the economic, financial and taxation policies of the last three administrations (Clinton-Bush-Obama), and from technological changes that have occurred during the period, is the top echelon of the upper-income class.

The super rich have raked in the most, while profiting the most from various tax loopholes, which have lowered their average tax rate from 27 percent in 1992 to less than 17 percent in 2012. In fact, America’s super rich get richer and they are laughing their way to tax havens!...

the Obama administration has initiated two mammoth international “trade deals”. Those trade “deals” were mostly kept secret because one of their main objectives is to guarantee legal protection to world corporations and megabanks against elected national governments and give them immunity from national prosecution.

The most recent examples of such “deals” are the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) with Europe and the Transpacific Trade Partnership (TTP) with countries in Asia.
It must be understood by all that these so called “free trade” agreements are really not genuine free trade agreements for the unhampered movement of goods between countries, based on comparative national advantages, but are really instead corporate and banking agreements to protect corporations and megabanks against national governments, their taxation and their regulations.

Such agreements, negotiated in near complete secrecy, pursue geopolitical objectives. They are an attempt to build a worldwide economic and financial order that supersedes national states and they represent also an effort to protect the corporate and banking elites—the establishment 1%—against national governments. In the case of the TTIP, its geopolitical objective is to prevent European countries from developing comprehensive trade agreements with Russia. In the case of TTP, the objective is to isolate China. In the eyes of Washington D.C. neocon planners, they are part of ongoing economic warfare.

he appointed belligerent and neocon-supported Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State. The neoconservative Weekly Standard applauded her nomination, calling her a “Warrior Queen”! Even Bush’s Vice President Dick Cheney declared to be “impressed” with her nomination. As MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough branded her, Hillary Clinton is a “neocon’s neocon”, because “there’s hardly been a military engagement that Hillary hasn’t been for in the past twenty years.”
President Barack Obama went on to appoint a long list of other neocons to senior positions in his administration, not the least being the nomination of Ms. Victoria Nuland, a Dick Cheney adviser, as Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, in May 2013. From then on, the die was cast as to what kind of administration President Obama would lead. Real change would have to wait.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/05/30/barack-obamas-legacy-what-happened/

The Obama administration, after beginning its time in office promoting an eventual nuclear weapons free world, is ending with a one trillion-dollar upgrade to America’s nuclear arsenal, including a kind of nuclear weapon more tempting to use because it can be scaled to battlefield size, a result which could quickly result in escalation. The Obama administration has, according to the New York Times, “reduced the nuclear stockpile less than any other post-Cold War presidency.”

Obama has also long stood behind the NDAA (National Defense Authorization Act), which, buried within it, has the infamous “indefinite detention” clause, capable of stripping American citizens of due process and holding them indefinitely for “substantial support” for terrorist groups or “associated forces,” both nebulous terms, and also asserts that Americans indefinitely detained will be held by the military.

Trump is racist, especially toward Mexicans, and has promised to build a wall on the southern border and round up millions in a mass deportation campaign. However, Senators Obama and Clinton both voted for the Secure Fence Act of 2006, which did result in the construction of a sort of wall on the southern border, and Obama’s deportation record has been mind-blowing (see the Department of Homeland Security’s graph in this article in The Post). Obama has deported more people than any president in American history.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/12/02/obamas-legacy/

The president campaigned with tremendous labor movement support on a pledge to make a reform of the hugely pro-management labor relations laws, beginning with a bill to make “card check” calls for a union, where a majority of workers simply have to sign cards saying they want one, sufficient to mandate that an employer recognize a union and bargain fairly for a contract. He never even submitted such a bill, saying once elected that he had bigger issues facing him. American workers have continued to have to battle to survive during the president’s two terms under a National Labor Relations Act that is stacked against them.
* Beginning in 2010, the president, instead of calling on the mass of supporters developed during his 2008 campaign, to get out and back progressive candidates for Congress, oversaw as head of the Democratic Party a campaign to undermine and run conservative Democratic candidates against most more radical and progressive candidates seeking office in Democratic Party primaries. The result of this backstabbling of progressive candidates was that support for Democratic Congressional nominees that year and in subsequent elections was lackluster at best, leading to Republican takeover of both House and Senate — a grim situation that will now be difficult to undo.

n the area of open and law-abiding government, candidate Obama promised a new era of open government. That was probably his biggest whopper. By all accounts, his has been the most secretive government in history, with the most prosecutions of whistleblowers, including the use of the hoary and clearly Constitution-undermining Espionage Act, his hounding of such courageous exposers of government wrongdoing as Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, NSA critic Edward Snowden, and war-crimes exposer Chelsea Manning, and his G W Bush-like fondness for executive orders. Open government died with President George Bush and his consigliere, Vice President Dick Cheney. It has been buried by President Obama. * Finally, Obama failed abysmally on the economy, in large part because just as with the criminals of the Bush/Cheney administration whom he declined to prosecute for their clearly illegal and unconstitutional crimes of torture, aggressive war-making and illegal surveillance on Americans, he decided to bar the Justice Department from prosecuting the criminal bankers at the head of the nation’s largest banks for causing, through their corrupt lending and fraudulent derivative-marketing programs, the real estate and stockmarket bubbles that ultimately collapsed the US and the global economy.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2016/10/05/president-barack-obamas-crappy-legacy/

Obama, it turns out, was among the most militaristic White House occupants in American history, taking the imperial presidency to new heights.  It has been said that Obama was the only president whose administration was enmeshed in multiple wars from beginning to end.   His imperial ventures spanned many countries – Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia along with proxy interventions in Yemen and Pakistan.  He ordered nearly 100,000 bombs and missiles delivered against defenseless targets, a total greater than that of the more widely-recognized warmonger George W. Bush’s total of 70,000 against five countries.  Iraq alone – where U.S. forces were supposed to have been withdrawn – was recipient of 41,000 bombs and missiles along with untold amounts of smaller ordnance. Meanwhile, throughout his presidency Obama conducted hundreds of drone attacks in the Middle East, more than doubling Bush’s total, all run jointly (and covertly) by the CIA and Air Force.

Obama engineered two of the most brazen regime-change operations of the postwar era, in Libya (2011) and Ukraine (2014), leaving both nations reduced to a state of ongoing civil war and economic ruin.   For the past seven years Libya has been overrun by an assortment of militias, jihadic groups, and local strongmen – predictable result of the U.S./NATO bombing offensive to destroy the secular nationalist (and modernizing) Kadafi regime.   This was purportedly Secretary of State Clinton’s biggest moment of glory, her imperialist gloating on full display following Kadafi’s assassination.   As this is written conditions in Libya worsen by the day, reports surfacing of hundreds of people killed during violent clashes in the suburbs of Tripoli as rival militias fight for control of the capital.  Militias now exercise control over ports, airfields, and much of the oil infrastructure.  More tens of thousands of Libyans are being forced from their homes, a development greeted with silence at CNN and kindred media outlets.

...t is easy to forget that it was the Obama administration that planned and carried out the first phases of the Mosul operation (begun in October 2016) which produced hundreds of thousands of casualties (with at least 40,000 dead), left a city of two million in Dresden-like state of rubble, and drove nearly a million civilians into exile.  The same fate, on smaller scale, was brought to other Sunni-majority cities in Iraq, including Ramadi, Tikrit, and Fallujah (already destroyed by U.S. forces in 2004).    Whatever the official goal, and however many secondary collaborators were involved, these were monstrous war crimes by any reckoning....

Obama’s contributions to a more robust imperial presidency went further.  Collaborating with Israel and Saudi Arabia, he stoked the Syrian civil war by lending “rebel” fighters crucial material, logistical, and military aid for what Clinton – anticipating electoral victory – believed would bring yet another cheerful episode of regime change, this one leaving the U.S. face-to-face with the Russians.  During his tenure in office, moreover, Obama would deploy more special-ops troops around the globe (to more than 70 countries) than any predecessor.
Many liberals and more than a few progressives – not to mention large sectors of the media intelligentsia — will find it difficult to reconcile the picture of an aggressively imperialist Obama with the more familiar image of a thoughtful, articulate politician who laced his talks with references to peace, arms control, and human rights.  But this very dualism best corresponds to the historical reality.   In his book The Obama Syndrome, Tariq Ali writes: “From Palestine through Iraq, Obama has acted as just another steward of the American empire, pursuing the same aims as his predecessors, with the same means but with more emollient rhetoric.”

Whatever one’s view of the Trump phenomenon in its totality, the amount of death and destruction he has brought to the world does not (yet) come close to Obama’s record of warfare, drone strikes, regime changes, military provocations, and global deployments.   If neocon interests have come to shape U.S. foreign policy, those interests have so far been more fully embraced by Obama and the Clintonites than by Trump, despite the scary presence of Trump’s hawkish circle of lieutenants.  Unfortunately, Obama’s eight years of imperial aggression elicited strikingly few liberal or progressive voices of dissent across the political and media terrain. He enjoyed nearly complete immunity from protest at a time when even the smallest vestiges of a once-vigorous American antiwar movement had disappeared from the scene.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2018/09/14/obamas-imperial-presidency/

All the growth in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) during Obama’s tenure went to them – the Donor Class that had gained control of the Democratic Party leadership. Real incomes have fallen for the remaining 95 percent, whose household budgets have been further eroded by soaring charges for health insurance. (The Democratic leadership in Congress fought tooth and nail to block Dennis Kucinich from introducing his Single Payer proposal.)

Hillary’s loss was not blamed on her neoliberal support for TPP or her pro-war neocon stance, but on the revelations of the e-mails by her operative Podesta discussing his dirty tricks against Bernie Sanders (claimed to be given to Wikileaks by Russian hackers, not a domestic DNC leaker as Wikileaks claimed) and the FBI investigation of her e-mail abuses at the State Departmen

Hillary’s election strategy was to make a right-wing run around Trump. While characterizing the working class as white racist “deplorables,” allegedly intolerant of LBGTQ or assertive women, she resurrected the ghost of Joe McCarthy and accused Trump of being “Putin’s poodle” for proposing peace with Russia.

Trump’s November victory showed that voters found him to be the Lesser Evil, but all that voters really could express was “throw out the bums”

Fifty years ago, socialists such as Michael Harrington asked why union members and progressives still imagined that they had to work through the Democratic Party. It has taken the rest of the country half a century to see that Democrats are not the party of the working class, unions, middle class, farmers or debtors. They are the party of Wall Street privatizers, bank deregulators, neocons and the military-industrial complex. Obama showed his hand – and that of his party – in his passionate attempt to ram through the corporatist TPP treaty that would have enabled corporations to sue governments for any costs imposed by public consumer protection, environmental protection or other protection of the population against financialized corporate monopolies.

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/03/24/trump-is-obamas-legacy-will-this-break-up-the-democratic-party/

https://www.counterpunch.org/2017/01/26/double-standards-where-were-the-liberal-protestors-during-obamas-wars/

Erdogan has three demands. He wants a buffer zone on the Syrian side of the border to protect Turkey from ISIS and Kurdish attacks.  He wants a no-fly zone over all or parts of Syria. And he wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power.  That’s what he wants and that’s what Obama has agreed to (as part of the Incirlik deal ) although the media is refuting the claim.   To help explain what’s going on, take a look at this article in  Reuters that was written back in October, 2014. Here’s an excerpt:
“Turkey will fight against Islamic State and other “terrorist” groups in the region but will stick to its aim of seeing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad removed from power, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday…
“We will (also) continue to prioritise our aim to remove the Syrian regime, to help protect the territorial integrity of Syria and to encourage a constitutional, parliamentary government system which embraces all (of its) citizens.”…
But it (Turkey) fears that U.S.-led air strikes, if not accompanied by a broader political strategy, could strengthen Assad and bolster Kurdish militants allied to Kurds in Turkey who have fought for three decades for greater autonomy.
“Tons of air bombs will only delay the threat and danger,” Erdogan said…..
We are open and ready for any cooperation in the fight against terrorism. However, it should be understood by everybody that Turkey is not a country in pursuit of temporary solutions nor will Turkey allow others to take advantage of it.” (“Turkey will fight Islamic State, wants Assad gone: President Erdogan“, Reuters)
That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?  Either the US helps Turkey get rid of Assad or there’s no deal. The Turkish president’s right-hand man, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, said the same thing  in an interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in February, 2015. Here’s an excerpt from the article:
“Turkey would be willing to put its troops on the ground in Syria “if others do their part,” Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour in an interview that aired Monday.
“We are ready to do everything if there is a clear strategy that after ISIS, we can be sure that our border will be protected. We don’t want the regime anymore on our border pushing people against — towards Turkey. We don’t want other terrorist organizations to be active there.”…
He said that American airstrikes in Syria were necessary but not enough for a victory.
“If ISIS goes, another radical organization may come in,” he said. “So our approach should be comprehensive, inclusive, strategic and combined …  to eliminate all brutal crimes against humanity committed by the regime.”
“We want to have a no-fly zone. We want to have a safe haven on our border. Otherwise, all these burdens will continue to go on the shoulder of Turkey and other neighboring countries.”…
Turkey is trying to dispel the idea that the United States can become involved in Syria by going after ISIS but not al-Assad.” (“Turkey willing to put troops in Syria ‘if others do their part,’ Prime Minister says“, CNN)
Repeat: “Turkey would be willing to put its troops on the ground in Syria”, but Assad’s got to go. That’s the trade-off. Davutoglu has since backed off on this demand, but the basic deal hasn’t changed.  Leaders in the US and Turkey have just decided to be more discreet about what they tell the press. But the plan is moving forward.  For example, officials from the Obama administration have denied that they will provide a no-fly zone over Syria.  According to the New York Times, however, the US has agreed to create an “Islamic State-free zone” or “safe zone… controlled by relatively moderate Syrian insurgents.”   (“Turkey and U.S. Plan to Create Syria ‘Safe Zone’ Free of ISIS“, New York Times)
So the question is: Will the US provide air cover over this “Islamic State-free zone”?


The Politics of Betrayal: Obama Backstabs Kurds to Appease Turkey

https://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/29/the-politics-of-betrayal-obama-backstabs-kurds-to-appease-turkey/

 

 



   

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