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Hometown: Xenia, OH
Member since: Tue Sep 19, 2006, 03:46 PM
Number of posts: 24,691

Journal Archives

Tea Party Labels John McCain An ‘Illegal Immigrant’ (for his trip to Syria)

On Tuesday, the Tea Party website ‘Tea Party Nation’ put out an article (see below) that labeled Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) an “illegal immigrant” because he had sneaked into Syria to visit rebels fighting against the Bashar al-Assad regime. ... It also noted that McCain’s humanitarian support for rebels could be attributed to his lack of intelligence, and Democratic turnout for his unsurprising win in the Arizona Senate race.

The characterization of McCain is just one incident in a long series of efforts by the group to unjustifiably incite hatred against undocumented immigrants. While the Tea Party is ostensibly meant to represent true American virtues, it’s better known for its outlandish values that border on racism, particularly when it comes to immigration.

Some major newspapers like the New York Times, the LA Times, and the AP have dropped the use of “illegal immigrant” from its coverage of undocumented migration. Immigration advocates view the phrase as offensive, citing that “no human being is ‘illegal,’ drop the I-word.” Yet Tea Party organizations have hardly budged.

In pandering to Tea Party advocates, some politicians are in fact hurting progress more than anything. Across many issues, Republican senators have quietly shifted their concerns to appease Tea Party supporters. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), for example, has shifted towards a Tea Party-style concern for states’ rights, when it comes to the ability of American children of undocumented immigrants to recieve federal benefits.


The illegal immigrant and mind-blowing stupidity.

The Syrian rebels are not simply rebelling against Bashar al-Assad. They are radical Islamists who want to turn Syria into an Islamist state. It was only last month that these Syrian rebels pledged their loyalty to Al-Qaeda.

McCain has the track record to prove he is an idiot. He supported America’s intervention in Egypt against Hosni Mubarak. How did that work out? It took a nation that had been a solid America ally for thirty years and transformed it into a radical Islamist state.

Libya is another great John McCain achievement. ... Prior to the rebellion, Muammer Qaddafi, Libya’s dictator had been behaving himself. He had given up Libya’s weapons of mass destruction program and was pretty much keeping himself at home. Qaddafi was not a saint but he was certainly better than what replaced him.

Now McCain wants us to do in Syria, what we did in Egypt and Libya. A reasonably sane man would ask how has this worked out for us? Perhaps after two unmitigated disasters, McCain would learn. Or perhaps there is a reason McCain graduated at the bottom of his class at the Naval Academy or managed to crash a couple of airplanes.


Not much love for McCain among tea party immigration hawks.

VW’s German Workers Win Raises In Pay Deal

Source: National Memo

Volkswagen’s German factory workers will get a two-stage raise under a new wage deal reached as the automaker grapples with slipping sales and profit.

The company said Tuesday it agreed with the IG Metall union on increases of 3.4 percent from Sept. 1 and 2.2 percent from July 1 of next year through February 2015. The agreement covers 102,000 workers in six west German auto plants.

Volkswagen AG personnel head Horst Neumann said the deal went “to the limit” of what a tough auto market would allow.

Volkswagen, whose brands also include Audi, Porsche, SEAT and Skoda, saw profit fall 38 percent in the first quarter as European car sales slumped in a recession. Sales of VW brand vehicles fell 7.9 percent in the first four months of the year.

Read more: http://www.nationalmemo.com/vws-german-workers-win-raises-in-pay-deal/

How Germany Builds Twice as Many Cars as the U.S. While Paying Its Workers Twice as Much

In 2010, Germany produced more than 5.5 million automobiles; the U.S produced 2.7 million. At the same time, the average auto worker in Germany made $67.14 per hour in salary in benefits; the average one in the U.S. made $33.77 per hour. Yet Germany’s big three car companies—BMW, Daimler (Mercedes-Benz), and Volkswagen—are very profitable.

How can that be? The question is explored in a new article from Remapping Debate, a public policy e-journal. Its author, Kevin C. Brown, writes that “the salient difference is that, in Germany, the automakers operate within an environment that precludes a race to the bottom; in the U.S., they operate within an environment that encourages such a race.

There are “two overlapping sets of institutions” in Germany that guarantee high wages and good working conditions for autoworkers. The first is IG Metall, the country’s equivalent of the United Automobile Workers. Virtually all Germany’s car workers are members, and though they have the right to strike, they “hardly use it, because there is an elaborate system of conflict resolution that regularly is used to come to some sort of compromise that is acceptable to all parties,” according to Horst Mund, an IG Metall executive. The second institution is the German constitution, which allows for “works councils” in every factory, where management and employees work together on matters like shop floor conditions and work life. Mund says this guarantees cooperation, “where you don’t always wear your management pin or your union pin.”

Mund points out that this goes

against all mainstream wisdom of the neo-liberals. We have strong unions, we have strong social security systems, we have high wages. So, if I believed what the neo-liberals are arguing, we would have to be bankrupt, but apparently this is not the case. Despite high wages . . . despite our possibility to influence companies, the economy is working well in Germany.

Germany's 'secret' seems to be 1) no 'right to work' - all auto workers belong to a union and 2) unions are guaranteed a position on the company's board of directors and "work councils" on the shop floor.

AI: UN resolution on Syria will do little to stop massive abuses

The non-binding resolution – which 107 states voted to adopt – encourages, among other things, the UN Security Council to “consider appropriate measures” that would ensure accountability for the ongoing violence and human rights violations in Syria. Russia was among the 12 countries who voted against the measure, while 59 abstained.

The resolution contains the UNGA’s strongest call yet for independent and impartial investigations of all suspected violations of human rights and international humanitarian law since the outbreak of the Syrian uprising in March 2011. Russia and China have three times vetoed a UN Security Council resolution on the situation in Syria.

The resolution stressed the importance of ending impunity and holding to account all those responsible for serious violations or abuses of international human rights and humanitarian law, including those that may amount to war crimes and crimes against humanity. It also called for the Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Syria to be given an extended mandate and greater access to carry out their work.

The organization has also repeatedly called for an end to President Bashar al-Assad’s crackdown on dissent in the country amid the conflict, which has led to the detention of tens of thousands of people for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly – with many of them held incommunicado or put at risk of torture or other ill-treatment. Among those targeted have been a large number of human rights activists, a number of whom are facing trial at the recently established Anti-Terrorism Court, where proceedings appear to fall far short of international standards of fair trial.


Ctr for American Progress: The Structure and Organization of the Syrian Opposition

As President Barack Obama and his national security advisors continue to weigh the costs and benefits of providing greater financial and materiel support for elements of the Syrian opposition—potentially including lethal aid—it is important to understand the structure of the Syrian opposition, which remains plagued by many divisions.

This issue brief outlines the official organization of the political and military elements of the Syrian opposition, along with the informal relationships and interactions between these groups, in an attempt to provide policymakers with a more accurate picture of the anti-Assad rebellion.

The Free Syrian Army

The Free Syrian Army, or FSA, is the largest group within the Syrian armed opposition. It is an umbrella group comprising small, ideologically moderate, and uncoordinated militias and battalions operating at local levels. ... The FSA is made up of small, localized battalions from all across Syria, organized loosely through provincial military councils. These battalions tend to fight in small geographic areas in defense of their hometowns and are less ideologically driven than others. It is estimated that there are as many as 50,000 fighters who align themselves with the FSA.

The Syrian Liberation Front

The Syrian Liberation Front, or SLF, also known as the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front or Jabhat al-Tahrir al-Souriya al-Islamiya, is an alliance of approximately 20 brigades and battalions across Syria. An estimated 37,000 fighters are affiliated with the SLF, making it the largest coalition of rebels independent of the Free Syrian Army. ... SLF-affiliated groups are considered to be ideologically moderate Islamists, putting them at odds with some of the extremist groups operating in the country.

The Syrian Islamic Front

The Syrian Islamic Front, or SIF, also known as Jabhat al-Islamiya al-Tahrir al-Souriya, is an alliance of approximately 11 brigades and battalions across Syria, most notably the Ahrar al-Sham brigades. An estimated 13,000 fighters are affiliated with the SIF. SIF-affiliates are viewed as conservative Salafists, who are more religiously motivated than the Free Syrian Army or the Syrian Liberation Front. Most SIF-affiliated groups, however, are considered to be Syrian nationalists that don’t share the most extreme ideological elements of Al Qaeda-affiliated groups such as support for a transnational Islamic caliphate.

The Nusra Front

The Nusra Front, also known as Jabhat al-Nusra, is an Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist group, comprising approximately 6,000 foreign and domestic fighters. The Nusra Front has reportedly been receiving significant funding, arms, and training from Al-Qaeda and the Al Qaeda-affiliated group, Islamic State of Iraq. Some of Nusra’s fighters are foreign jihadists, many of whom are veterans of the Iraqi insurgency; it is unclear, however, what percentage of the Nusra Front’s supporters are foreign fighters as opposed to Syrian nationals.


This is a long and detailed look at the Syrian opposition. As CAP acknowledges that this is a 'best effort' look at the opposition since accurate numbers are obviously impossible to come by. As 'typical' liberals, however, they try to come up with as accurate a picture as possible to use as a frame of reference for policy discussions.

It is useful that a liberal organization such as CAP has produced this report to provide a look at the reality (or as close to it as is possible under the circumstances) rather than relying on half-truths, fear and emotion from the right that we see so often in policy debates. Fact (or as close to them as you can get) have a liberal bias, as we all know.

Rand Paul: Obama Helping 'Anti-American Globalists Plot Against Our Constitution'

Rand Paul on Saturday accused President Obama of working with "anti-American globalists" to "plot against our Constitution."

On November 7th, his administration gleefully voted at the UN for a renewed effort to pass the “Small Arms Treaty.”

But after the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut — and anti-gun hysteria in the national media reaching a fever pitch — there’s no doubt President Obama and his anti-gun pals believe the timing has never been better to ram through the U.N.’s global gun control crown jewel.

I don’t know about you, but watching anti-American globalists plot against our Constitution makes me sick. Ever since its founding 65 years ago, the United Nations has been hell-bent on bringing the United States to its knees. (Yeah, Rand. You guessed it. The UN was an FDR plot to bring the US to its knees at the hands of anti-American globalists. You can call Rand many things but you can't call his 'stupid'. On second thought, ...)

These globalists know that as long as Americans remain free to make our own decisions without being bossed around by big government bureaucrats, they’ll NEVER be able to seize the worldwide power they crave. (Again, Rand, you are brilliant. The UN is the New World Order reality - not just a conspiracy theory any more - that you have to protect us against.)


And I thought Agenda 21 and the Law of the Seas were the only UN "plots" against our national sovereignty. It is funny that the rest of the world (well, except for those 'wise' folks on the far-right around the world) cannot see the threats posed by the UN). I am surprised that Paul did not mention these other UN 'plots' in this email. Perhaps he is saving those for his next fund-raising email.

I have seen some of the "tool of the 'elite' or 'big business'" jabs regarding immigration.

Your profile indicates that you are from Michigan and living in Switzerland now.

I think you should remember that many Americans are quite different from Europeans in terms of their attitudes towards movement between countries or working in a country other than your own. Europeans have learned from their history (as I am sure you are well aware) that, done properly, open borders between neighboring countries creates more peace and prosperity than did the closed borders of the first half of the 20th century. The French and Germans are probably so used to working in each others' countries by now that they do not think any more of it than someone living in Connecticut and working in New York.

Europeans have also learned that problems in one country will affect others in time. If one country gets taken over by a crazy militaristic dictator, others will suffer in time. They now know that you cannot just say "As long as the crazy man just messes up his own country we can build a wall and breathe a sigh of relief that we will not be affected."

The US has not had a similar history. In the old days they used to say that the oceans protected us, so we did not have to care that much what happened in Europe or Asia. Their problems were not our problems. On our own continent we have not had the history of wars with our neighbors that say France and Germany have had. Our only wars with Canada and Mexico were so long ago that they are not really part of our consciousness anymore. We do not really have the sense that peace and prosperity in Canada and Mexico are really that important to our own. In fact, many republicans want to build a wall to keep Mexico's problems in Mexico.

So I think that many Americans look at foreigners as a "THEM" who are out to get "US" simply because we have not been forced by history to change the way we look at foreigners. Americans have come a long way (with a long way still to go) in terms of learning not to distrust someone who is of a different race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. but someone who is of a different nationality is more 'different' from us than someone of a different race or sexual orientation and, thus, still a "THEM" to worry about. I am sure that the French and Germans used to view their respective nationalities with much distrust back in the day, too. Nationality seems to be fading as an "US vs. THEM" determinant in Europe but not here.

Add to that the fact that the republican party was historically the party of high tariffs and restrictive immigration laws, while the Democratic Party was just the opposite. This was true until the 1980's when their party - for their own reasons - came over to the Democratic side. While the republican base has to some degree gone back to historical republican views on immigration and tariffs, the corporate wing of the party still embraces their new "1980's wisdom". To me that makes it understandable that some liberals view the relatively recent republican conversion to supporting immigration and lower tariffs as a sign that the "elite" and "big business" have always supported those policies. Of course, prior to the 1980's big business supported high tariffs which limited foreign competition in the American domestic market and helped keep profits high.

"I'd always thought that workers should stick together, and that helping the least of us was better than helping ourselves." - I have said essentially the same. Democrats, in general I think, subscribe to the idea that "We are all in this together", while republicans are more into the "It's a dog-eat-dog world out there" mentality. But even for Democrats nationality is a tough thing to get over when it come to "We are all in this together" - at least tougher to get over than it is in Europe. We try hard, with some success, to get over differences in race, gender and sexual orientation among others, but differences in nationality are tougher.

Juan Cole: Why Obama doesn’t want to intervene in Syria (He knows it will not work.)

After President Obama’s remarks about chemical weapons use in Syria, many newspaper articles appeared suggesting that he was rethinking his opposition to US involvement there. They were wrong, and weren’t listening. Obama said we don’t know who used the chemical weapons or to what extent. That isn’t building a case for intervention, it is knocking it down.

Everyone always forgets that if foreigners bomb a hated regime’s installations and accidentally thereby kill large numbers of innocent civilians, the dead civilians show up on the front page and everyone turns against the foreign air force. NATO only avoided this outcome in Libya by staying mostly away from the cities (it did not actually intervene in the Misrata siege). The few bombing raids on Gaddafi’s HQ, the Bab al-Aziziyah, did give the regime some propaganda points, since you can’t bomb downtown Tripoli without casualties.

Finding ways to help the refugees and displaced, and to get food to half-starving neighborhoods in places like Homs, are about the best the US could do. I think we’re on the verge of having a plausible humanitarian corridor in the north, and Jordan is considering a buffer zone in the south. ... sending a lot of weapons into Syria might end the war sooner (or might not; the regime has heavier weapons); but it could also prolong the violence and insecurity in the aftermath.

It is a horrible situation. It breaks our hearts every day. But here as in medicine, the first rule has to be to do no harm, to avoid making things worse. It would be very, very easy to make things worse.


Cole has a handle on the situation in Syria, the constraints on what can be done and Obama's understanding of both.

"eliminating trade restrictions is a relatively small part of both agreements, since most tariffs

quotas have already been sharply reduced or eliminated."

Germany and other European nations have stronger union protections than does the U.S., and labor believes the trade talks could pressure U.S. officials into strengthening U.S. laws. “People in labor see this as an opportunity, not as a threat,” said George Kohl, a senior director at the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

European trade union representatives will be lobbying EU negotiators to pressure the U.S. to strengthen its labor laws in the context of the trade talks, said Owen Herrnstadt, director of trade and globalization for the International Association of Machinists. And with a labor-friendly White House, unions would have a president predisposed to helping them improve labor standards working on their side. Herrnstadt said he “fully expect that the European trade unions will voice their position with EU negotiators.”


(One administration strategy) will be the pursuit of trade agreements that notably do not include China. The most important of these is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement among a growing list of nations bordering the Pacific. It is the Obama administration’s avowed aim to construct a TPP with standards so high — especially rules regarding behavior by state-owned enterprises — that China could never join without transforming its economic system.


...the negotiation is subject to the U.S. domestic politics. At the very beginning of the negotiation, the United States reminded other countries that the U.S. Congress would not accept a TPP without strong labor and environmental measures. Obviously, the United States aims to lower the comparative advantages of developing countries so as to create more job opportunities for itself.


The point of these agreements is not to "eliminate trade restrictions" like tariffs. China does not like them because they perceive that the agreements contain "strong labor and environmental measures" that "lower the comparative advantages of developing countries" (specifically lower wages and weaker environmental regulations).

If these agreements are not primarily about lowering tariffs and other 'trade restrictions' (as the OP states) but about adding "strong labor and environmental measures" (as China fears), they could be a good deal. Since Canada and Mexico are part of these negotiations, "strong labor and environmental measures" would apply to our NAFTA partners as well, something missing in the original NAFTA and not added subsequently.
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