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

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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).


Krugman: The truth about 'entitlement spending'. No upward trend until Great Recession. None now.

Here, income security is mainly EITC, food stamps, and unemployment benefits, plus a few other means-tested aid programs. Health is all major programs — Medicare, Medicaid/CHIP, and at the very end the exchange subsidies.

What this chart tells you right away:

1. The “nation of takers” stuff is deeply misleading. Until the economic crisis, income security had no trend at all. The only way to make it seem as if means-tested programs were exploding is to include Medicaid, which has gone up in part because of rising costs, in part because of a major expansion to cover children (all those 11-year-old bums on welfare, you know).

2. When people claimed that spending was exploding under Obama, the only thing actually happening was a surge in income-support programs at a time of genuine distress. People smirked knowingly and declared that everyone knew that the bump in spending would become permanent; it didn’t.

3. If there is a long-run spending problem, it’s overwhelmingly about health care. And we have lately been making remarkable progress on that front.


Facts won't matter with republicans and their slash-entitlements fixation. But it is nice to have facts on our side.

Bill introduced to require congressional approval of any diplomatic agreement with Iran

Obama vows veto of new Senate legislation ensuring vote on Iran deal\

Four senators have introduced a bill that would grant Congress the opportunity to approve, or disapprove, of a comprehensive nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by the Obama administration. The Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 was introduced on Friday by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) and ranking member Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey), as well as Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and Tim Kaine (D-Virginia).

Their move was immediately criticized by the White House. US President Barack Obama will veto all legislation on Iran so long as negotiations are under way, one spokesman told The Jerusalem Post.

The bill would require Obama submit to Congress the text of a final agreement as well as evidence of Iran's compliance to the deal, and prohibits him from "suspending, waiving or otherwise reducing" congressional sanctions for sixty days. At that point in time, Congress would vote on a joint resolution of approval or disapproval of the deal. Should Congress vote against the agreement, and should the president veto that resolution, the legislature would vote a second time with the potential to override his veto with a two-thirds majority.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which is preparing to open its annual conference on Sunday and to host Netanyahu the following day, will fight for the bill, one official said.

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