Sunday, April 24, 2016

U.S. Trade Policy:  Populist Anger or Out-of-Touch Elites?  (Secrets of TTIP and TPP)  Hillary Clinton’s Support Base As Bogus As US Democracy  (Marquis de Sade and Modern Bankers) Max and Stacy Pounce!

Bernie’s Donation Windfall:  Sanders’ Campaign Has Raised $182 Million, Eclipsing Hillary Clinton’s Total

Sanders had a $720,000 edge at the end of March, CNN reports.

. . . Federal Election Commission filings indicate Sanders’ campaign has out-raised Clinton’s “by at least 50%” every month this year — and in so doing, steadily reeled in Hillary’s more than $30-million head start.

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Don't miss Lee Camp's "Redacted Tonight!"

If you do, it's a pity as you will have missed the only real news show worth the title in the USA USA USA!

I've long thought of the coming dark (purposely kept dark, and vastly oversold) trade policies (TTP, TTiP, TPA, FTAAP, RCEP) as the "ensure the raising of prices to astronomical heights now because the populace will have too much information later (due to the internet) to be able to hoodwink them so easily" economic policy gift to the sponsoring/funding industries (which will benefit enormously from the universal change in existing laws that will obviate local control).

U.S. Trade Policy:   Populist Anger or Out-of-Touch Elites?

Just how disconnected is the business elite and Washington policy class fro&nm the way most Americans actually experience the U.S. economy?
The presidential primary campaigns of both political parties have exposed widespread voter anger over U.S. global trade policies. In response, hardly a day has recently gone by without the New York Times, the Washington Post and other defenders of the status quo lecturing their readers on why unregulated foreign trade is good for them.
The ultimate conclusion is always the same – that voters should leave complicated issues like this to those intellectually better qualified to deal with them. So much for democracy.
Trade experts, according to Binyamin Appelbaum of the Times have been “surprised” at the popular discontent over this issue. Their surprise only shows how disconnected the elite and the policy class that supports it is from the way most people actually experience the national economy.
The United States has always been a trading nation. But until the 1994 North American Trade Agreement, trade policy was primarily an instrument to support domestic economic welfare and development.

A lop-sided deal:  Investment vs. jobs

Starting with NAFTA, pushed through not by a Republican president, but by the Bill Clinton in 1994, it became a series of deals in which profit opportunities for American investors were opened up elsewhere in the world in exchange for opening up U.S. labor markets to fierce foreign competition.

As Jorge Castañeda, who later became Mexico’s foreign minister, put it, NAFTA was “an agreement for the rich and powerful in the United States, Mexico and Canada, an agreement effectively excluding ordinary people in all three societies.”

For 20 years, leaders of both parties have assured Americans that each new NAFTA-style deal would bring more jobs and higher wages for workers, and trade surpluses for their country. It was, they were told, an iron law of economics.

Warm words, harsh reality

What actually followed were outsourced jobs, wage declines, shrunken opportunities and rising trade deficits. The result has been a dramatic weakening of the bargaining power of American workers.

So it should come as no surprise when the large parts of the U.S. workforce now conclude that these trade deals may have had something to do with the redistribution of income from their pockets to the bank accounts of the top 1% who own and manage large multinational corporations.

Whatever sticks

Despite this embarrassing record, the policy class remains loyal to the interests of its political and financial sponsors. They have, however, modified their arguments.

To promote the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, they now put more stress on geopolitics, claiming that the TPP is essential for maintaining American political influence in Asia — which of course is also something that should be left to the “experts.”

The economic case has downshifted, from promising workers that life will be better to assuring them that it won’t be worse. But even this somewhat deflated claim is a hard sell to those who listen carefully.

The main point now is to convince Americans that they should not worry that they chronically import more that they export, and have to make up the difference by borrowing.

To accept this argument, one also has to accept the following contradictory propositions:

1. -Trade deficits do not cost jobs.

The central evidence for this assertion is that “most economists” believe it. True, but only because most economists are trained to think about trade in stylized models in which laid-off workers instantly find new jobs (typically at lower wages).

Thus, the lobby for TPP regularly cites “studies” which define the problem away — by assuming permanent full employment (and then concluding there will be no job loss).

Eduardo Porter of the New York Times adds some circular reasoning to the debate. Sending jobs to Mexico under NAFTA, he writes, may have avoided sending more jobs to China where labor costs are even cheaper than they are in Mexico. (Of course, that wouldn’t be a problem if Bill Clinton hadn’t made a similar trade and investment deal with China a few years later.)

Unfortunately for many self-described trade experts, this argument also stumbles over Economics 101. Growth, the generator of jobs, is measured by changes in the Gross Domestic Product.
A component of GDP is the trade balance. When imports exceed exports, GDP drops by that amount.
That, by the way, is an iron law of economics.

2. If trade deficits do cost jobs, it doesn’t matter.

Why? Because, as Neil Irwin of the Times tells its U.S. consumers get cheaper goods in exchange for dollars. Economic theory considers merely IOUs to be paid back, maybe, sometime in the future.

However, even credit card addicted Americans have a hard time believing that you never have to pay back borrowed money.

Moreover, polls regularly show that most voters think jobs are more important than cheap underwear and I-phones. But, of course, what matters to most people is apparently not what matters most economists.

3. If trade deficits do cost jobs and it does matter, don’t blame it on trade.

Paul Krugman, as part of his relentless critique of Bernie Sanders, notes that total trade is an even greater share of GDP in some of Sanders’ favorite democratic socialist countries like Denmark. Yet, Danish living standards remain high. Why? Because they are protected by government and promoted by unions.

We aren’t Denmark

Thus, according to Krugman, the fundamental problem is not trade; it is the lack of appropriate domestic policies in the United States.

What Krugman fails to tell his readers is that, unlike the United States, Denmark runs trade surpluses. Still, he has a point. Trade deficits would not have such a negative impact here if we had social policies like they have there.

But liberal free traders have been saying this for decades. Perversely, Krugman’s point has been used to rationalize the cynical alliance between Democratic presidents and Republican congresses to pass investor-privileged trade deals.

Before each vote, there are promises that this time it will be different. Generous assistance will be provided to help older workers adjust and make sure younger workers get new opportunities — later.

“Later,” of course, never comes. As everyone should know by now, Republicans have no intention of supporting government programs to bolster income and job security – ever.

It is therefore left to liberal Democrats to express their sorrow that things haven’t quite worked out, and to “feel the pain” of the ex-steelworker who is mopping floors at Burger King and the college graduate waiting on tables, as they remind them that, sadly, the United States is not Denmark.

Democrats don’t even try to bargain

It is long past the time when Krugman and other liberal “free-traders” should have connected the dots of their own analysis.

If the problem is not trade, per se, but the lack of domestic progressive policies to adjust to global markets, then the rational response is to force the investor class and their Republican agents to the political bargaining table.

Democrats should be demanding an immediate freeze, and where possible a rollback, of trade agreements until the other side of the aisle is ready to accept programs similar to those in Denmark that will allow workers to share the benefits of expanded trade.

Until that happens, we can expect American voters to become more protectionist, while the country’s policy elite remains disconnected from the lives of ordinary Americans — and continually surprised that so many of them feel betrayed.

More on this topic

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[KR905] Keiser Report:  Secrets of TTIP & TPP

Posted on April 23, 2016Stacy Herbert Comments
We discuss that if man is what he hides, as André Malraux said, then the EU is a corporatist, monopolist loving intellectual land-grabber, for the EU hides secret trade deals. We also discuss Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan instructing his coalition not to ‘forcibly’ proceed with ratifying the TPP (another secret trade deal) until after elections this summer as voters are against it. In the second half, Max interviews independent Irish politician and MEP, Luke ‘Ming’ Flanagan, about the top secret TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

Hillary Clinton’s Support Base As Bogus As US Democracy

US elections, despite all the media hype and endless rhetoric about ‘democracy in action,’ are in fact little more than manufactured political theater. The country that ceaselessly trumpets democratic values and transparency practices neither when it comes to its own elections.
As New Yorkers go to the polls in Democratic and Republican primaries this week, it is critical to once again highlight the myriad ways that democracy in the United States is, like most other things, a commodity to be bought and sold. From corporate control of the infrastructure of elections, to the creation of mass bases of support out of whole cloth, the candidates, as well as the system itself, cannot be trusted to be genuine.

Perhaps nothing illustrates this point more clearly than the results of multiple studies on Hillary Clinton’s online following which reveal that the majority of her Twitter fans, and indeed her social media following in general, are completely fake. Consider the implications of these findings from, and well-respected analytical tool TwitterAudit, which both found that no more than 44 percent of Clinton’s followers were actually real, active users of Twitter.

This may seem something trivial, but in fact it cuts to the very heart of the notion of democracy, and the legitimacy of a candidate who is perhaps the most obvious embodiment of the political and financial establishment in the US. Indeed, Bernie Sanders, among many others, has correctly noted that Clinton is in many ways the epitome of the ruling elite.

In a blistering commentary on Clinton during a nationally televised debate, Sanders proclaimed, “I will absolutely admit that Secretary Clinton… has the entire establishment or almost the entire establishment behind her. That’s a fact. I don’t deny it. I’m pretty proud that we have over a million people who have contributed to our campaign averaging 27 bucks a piece.” Sanders highlighted the fact that the political and financial elites back Hillary, and in so doing noted that his campaign is backed by millions of ordinary Americans.

But Sanders was equally, though perhaps inadvertently, illustrating the fact that the Clinton campaign is, in effect, being manufactured; that she has no real support except for a near consensus of establishment policy-makers and powerful individuals. And yet, here’s Hillary marching into yet another major primary with a double-digit lead. How much of that is based on a perception shaped – at least in part – by social media?

This phenomenon is not relegated only to Clinton’s campaign, however; this is true of most of America’s leading political figures. In 2013, it was revealed President Obama’s Twitter following was made up of a majority (53 percent) fake accounts. The Daily Mail at the time noted that Vice President Joe Biden, First Lady Michelle Obama, and the White House communications shop all had online followings consisting of mainly non-existent people. So too did the State Department under Hillary Clinton, which spent at least $630,000 to buy Facebook "likes," essentially manufacturing a public following for itself.

But who cares, right? What does it matter if Twitter accounts and Facebook likes are fraudulent? How does that impact anything other than social media image?

How social media manipulation serves the Establishment agenda

Twitter, Facebook, and other social media have become very potent tools in the arsenal of the US Government as it wages a relentless information war in the service of the military-industrial complex and the agenda of the elite. In fact, social media goes far beyond just an image. Today, it has been made into an effective tool for the dissemination of misinformation and disinformation that conveniently buttresses whatever narrative the establishment wants.

Take for example the lead-up to the criminal war on Libya. In early 2011, with the narrative of the ‘Arab Spring’ ubiquitous in western social media, the US-NATO machine set its sights on regime change in Libya, with social media as one of the critical tools used to achieve it. Close followers of that conflict will recall that dozens of Twitter accounts, purportedly from anti-Gaddafi Libyans, mysteriously emerged in the lead-up to the war that toppled the Libyan government, providing much of the “intelligence” relayed on western media including CNN, NBC, the New York Times, et al.

At that time (February 2011), "PC World" published a little publicized article entitled “Army of Fake Social Media Friends to Promote Propaganda” which noted that:  “… the U.S. government contracted HBGary Federal for the development of software which could create multiple fake social media profiles to manipulate and sway public opinion on controversial issues by promoting propaganda. It could also be used as surveillance to find public opinions with points of view the powers-that-be didn’t like. It could then potentially have their “fake” people run smear campaigns against those “real” people.”

Clearly the US Government and intelligence community have known from the beginning the power of social media, and its ability to influence public opinion and lay the groundwork for policies, as well as its potential as a weapon.

In fact, the CIA has taken its social media arsenal much further in recent years. There are literally dozens of companies that have received seed money from the CIA’s investment arm, known as In-Q-Tel, in order to provide the intelligence and security establishment the ability to do everything – from real-time surveillance of social media users to data mining and more. In effect then, social media has become the playground of the elite, the terrain upon which their manipulation and social engineering takes root.

Is This Democracy?

OK, so social media followings are meaningless as they can be manufactured, as we see currently with Hillary Clinton. But surely the actual mechanisms of voting in the US are clean? Well, not exactly.

In this election season alone there have been massive failures in multiple states that have left countless thousands of Americans without the right to vote for their candidates of choice, or victims of outright fraud. Even Arizona’s Secretary of State recently admitted that fraud had taken place on a large scale in her state. The hacktivist collective "Anonymous" has provided detailed analysis pointing to the fact that state databases were likely hacked and manipulated.

And then of course there’s the issue of the voting machines themselves. Recently the Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law issued a comprehensive report entitled "America’s Voting Machines at Risk" which found that the voting machines currently in use are outdated, running the risk of catastrophic failures. The report highlighted many shocking examples that should give anyone pause when considering the validity of election results. The authors of the report noted that “Virginia recently decertified a voting system used in 24 percent of precincts after finding that an external party could access the machine’s wireless features to record voting data or inject malicious data.”

This finding only further substantiates the claims made by many experts that the hacking of voting machines and election databases is all but assured, not just in the US but internationally.

A case in point is Andrés Sepulveda, a Colombian hacker who literally stole the Mexican presidential election for the current president Enrique Peña Nieto. Sepulveda, who is linked with Miami-based political power-broker Juan José Rendón (the right wing king-maker widely seen as the engineer of numerous fraudulent elections in Latin America), has laid bare the utterly fraudulent machinations just behind the artifice of so-called democracy. Does anyone really believe that US elections are not equally suspect?

Finally, were the problem just the age of the voting machines and the ability of outside hackers to manipulate them, the machines could simply be replaced with more advanced, high-security equipment, and the elections could be deemed legitimate, right? Not so fast.

The fact is that nearly all electronic voting machines are designed and manufactured by companies such as ES&S (owned by Warren Buffett), Dominion (previously Diebold), Smartmatic, and Hart Intercivic, all of which are connected to very powerful interests within the ruling elite circles. In fact, researchers at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University demonstrated that in under 60 seconds, anyone could bypass the lock and replace the memory card with another. As the researchers in the video explain, “Any desired algorithm can be used to determine which votes to steal and to which candidate or candidates to transfer the stolen votes.”

Put simply, there is little reason to trust the results of any election in the US. As Harvey Wasserman and Bob Fitrakis succinctly wrote:  “There is no way to verify the official tally on the electronic machines on which the majority of Americans will vote this fall. Nearly all the machines are a decade old, most are controlled by a single company (ES&S, owned by Warren Buffett) and the courts have ruled that the software is proprietary, making the vote counts beyond public scrutiny.”

Given these inescapable facts, there is little reason to wonder why Hillary Clinton, the darling of the establishment, is always smiling. She knows the game is rigged in her favor.

Despite the momentum Sanders has generated with his grassroots support, the Clinton machine is alive and well thanks to a fake support base, dodgy election infrastructure, and elite-controlled nomination process; in other words, corporate control of the election circus.
Think of these things the next time you hear President Obama, or Hillary Clinton, or anyone else spouting off about America’s democracy and its “exceptional” place in the world.

This piece first appeared at RT.

Eric Draitser is the founder of and host of CounterPunch Radio. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at

More articles by:  Eric Draitser

next – How Chernobyl Led to Austria’s Nuclear-Free Utopia,

previous – After Sanders — A Path to Electoral Revolution

We discuss how the Marquis de Sade would approve the modern banker for their joy of making off with the substance of others. We also look at Deutsche Bank turning on their co-conspirators in gold and silver rigging and they also cover the New York pension funds telling hedge funds to ‘shove it’. In the second half Max interviews Arthur Hayes of about making leveraged bets on China with bitcoin without being Zhou Tonged.

Chernobyl, and Cesium, at 30

Why Haven’t Bankers Been Punished? Just Read These Insider SEC Emails

Right after the financial crisis, an SEC lawyer fought a lonely struggle to get his agency to crackdown harder on Goldman bankers. He lost.

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