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GM invests millions in Mexico as Ford absorbs Trump's blow

Bloomberg  /  October 14, 2016

After more than a year of watching Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump bash Ford Motor Co. for moving jobs to Mexico, General Motors Co. has pushed ahead with its own expansion. It just hasn't said as much as Ford.

GM is advancing on an $800 million investment for its global small-car lineup that includes a factory retooling in San Luis Potosi state. That plant and another factory in Mexico will also build the redesigned Chevy Equinox crossover next year, people familiar with the matter said.

The automaker has only said that the next Equinox will be built in a factory in Canada and two other sites, keeping mum about Mexico and avoiding both attention from Trump and the chance that the news might have roiled labor talks in Canada last month, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private.

Taking a lower profile has kept GM out of Trump's cross-hairs and helped the Detroit company reach an agreement with its Canadian union, even as the Republican candidate singled out Ford's latest Mexican factory plan as "an absolute disgrace."

For Mexico, GM's tight-lipped approach hints at how U.S. companies might operate if Trump wins the election after campaigning against the North American Free Trade Agreement.

"Big American companies are being cautious, they don't want to have issues with the presidential candidates," Mario Chacon, head of global business promotion at Mexico's foreign investment agency, said in an interview. "They're feeling repressed because anything they say can be used against them."

GM has been clear about its investment in Mexico, starting with an announcement in late 2014 that it would spend $5 billion there. The automaker just hasn't said much about the details since then.

Ford splash

Ford made a splash in April when, in the heart of primary season, the company said it would invest $1.6 billion in Mexico to make small cars. Ford CEO Mark Fields then said in September that the company would move all small-car production there.

Trump's attacks have forced a reaction from Ford Chairman Bill Ford, who is great-grandson of the company's founder. Ford said in late September that the company makes more cars in the U.S. than any other automaker and that, "we are everything that he should be celebrating about this country."

GM's investment in its factory in the Mexican state of San Luis Potosi was initially announced in November 2015, without specific plans or details. The plan came in addition to the $5 billion the company said it would invest in December 2014 to expand and retool existing plants in the country.

GM says it isn't hiding its investment in Mexico. "For competitive reasons -- especially as it relates to future product -- the specific details behind the investments get rolled out as we deem appropriate," Pat Morrissey, a spokesman for the automaker, wrote in an e-mail.

Morrissey also said GM has invested $20 billion in its U.S. operations since 2009 and employs 97,000 people in the U.S. and 15,000 in Mexico.

In past years, GM has been vocal in promoting its new investments in Mexico. It held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new railway extension in San Luis Potosi in 2014, invited a governor to announce an expansion in Coahuila in 2010, and fired off press releases detailing even its smallest investments -- including an $87 million contribution to a stamping plant in March 2015.

That same month it also announced a new model it would produce in Mexico: the new generation Chevrolet Cruze.

Investing 'quietly'

By contrast, GM has no press statements on its website about investments in Mexico this year. There has been no information about the Equinox in Mexico, nor on where all of the $800 million pledged in November would be spent.

The automaker has confirmed it will build the Chevrolet Equinox at a plant in Ingersoll, Ontario. GM also said it would make the Equinox and its stablemate, the GMC Terrain, at two other unidentified factories.

"Companies don't halt their investment decisions for political reasons, they simply do it quietly," Chacon said. "No company wants to have big announcements now because they could see a negative reaction from unions in other countries. So decisions aren't made out in the open but they continue. They can't stop."

GM President Dan Ammann had little to say about the political controversy that has embroiled Ford during election season. "We're observing," Ammann said in an interview with Bloomberg.

Mexican benefits

Labor costs that are about a fifth of U.S. levels have lured most carmakers to set up shop or expand in Mexico in recent years. Since the beginning of 2010, Mexico has snared $25.8 billion in announced investments, according to the Center for Automotive Research in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Kia Motors Corp. and Volkswagen AG's luxury Audi unit inaugurated billion-dollar plants last month. A joint venture of Daimler AG and Nissan Motor Co. is working on a factory that will assemble compact vehicles, while Toyota Motor Corp. plans to produce Corollas. BMW AG is also building a plant.

In addition to lower labor costs, Mexico also offers a network of international trade deals and proximity to the U.S. car market.

"Mexico's free trade agreements, geography and labor costs make it more attractive than Brazil," Horacio Chavez, Kia's Mexico country chief, said in an interview last month. "It allows us to reach many markets."


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1 hour ago, kscarbel2 said:

Trump has filed no less than four times for Chapter 11 bankruptcy...........not exactly the mark of success. I can accept one bankruptcy, e.g. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos. However I can't accept four bankruptcies........there's a repeating pattern there. Too many times, people were not paid, or not paid in full, for services provided because Trump hid under the blanket of bankruptcy protection.

In comparison, genuinely successful businessmen like Warren Buffett, Bill Ford and Jack Welch have never filed for bankruptcy, and have indeed employed tens of thousands of employees.

Respectfully sir, I have a slightly different view on the Bill Ford and Jack Welch thing...  Yes, Buffett maybe, but Bill Ford and "Neutron Jack" Welch gained their positions in long-established companies whose foundations and creditworthiness were already in place.  Trump took a peanut size real estate business and grew it himself.  Sure, some of his deals were too slick by a half, but all legal and he's taken his lumps along the way for some of his shenanigans.  People Invested in Tucker and lost their money, and people invested in Enron and lost their money, and anybody that invested in Trump after the second bankruptcy should have expected to lose their money.  As for Neutron Jack, not a class act in my humble opinion.

Here excerpted from a Columbia Journalism Review article:

"One of the big reasons why Americans don’t trust corporate America like they used to is Jack Welch himself.

Some call the kind of cut-throat, winner-take-all capitalism that has taken hold over the last 35 years or so “Jack Welch capitalism.” The Economist, no lefty rag, for one, is one of them.

Welch wasn’t called “Neutron Jack” for nothing. He got that nickname firing tens of thousands of workers, often outsourcing the work overseas. Jack Welch capitalism discarded other stakeholders like workers and the community to focus almost exclusively on delivering short-term value to shareholders. He was the face of the downsized economy and the end of the social compact between businesses and their workers. He fought to keep GE from cleaning up the Hudson River after it dumped more than a million pounds of carcinogenic PCBs over thirty years ending in 1977, and because his company was responsible for 52 Superfund sites, challenged the law’s constitutionality."

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11 hours ago, grayhair said:

Respectfully sir, I have a slightly different view on the Bill Ford and Jack Welch thing...  Yes, Buffett maybe, but Bill Ford and "Neutron Jack" Welch gained their positions in long-established companies whose foundations and creditworthiness were already in place.  Trump took a peanut size real estate business and grew it himself.  Sure, some of his deals were too slick by a half, but all legal and he's taken his lumps along the way for some of his shenanigans.  People Invested in Tucker and lost their money, and people invested in Enron and lost their money, and anybody that invested in Trump after the second bankruptcy should have expected to lose their money.  As for Neutron Jack, not a class act in my humble opinion.

No worries.

The elections show this time around is more action-packed than we've seen in years. Two grown-ups ruthlessly attacking the skeletons in each others closets with reckless abandon. The fans of reality shows, who know all the stars by heart but couldn't begin to tell you where Ukraine or Somalia are, are enjoying it. Both Hillary and Trump have even brought the Kardashians into it all, thrilling millions of Americans.

Now, if it's all real, wouldn't the American people rather hear about how these people would lead the nation going forward? I haven't heard a clear, concise and comprehensive game plan from either.

The European Union's inevitable demise is being realized, the Middle East is in an orchestrated crisis from one end to the other, we're on the razor's edge with China with minimal footing in Asia, and all the while Latin America and Africa are in crisis. U.S. industry is a mere fraction of its former self. When we led the world, and by a wide margin, both industrially and militarily, it was significantly more settled (there's always a crisis occurring somewhere). We haven't led the world since the Reagan era, some 30 years ago. Things are very bad right now......very bad. Most Americans don't know, and have no interest in knowing.


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A lot of key points here.


Course Correction

The National Interest  /  October 16, 2016

WHOEVER WINS the presidential race in November will face an uncertain world. With a serious and purposeful strategy, the United States can bolster its global leadership role and advance its national-security interests. Continued weakness and recklessness, however, could worsen trouble in critical regions, from Europe to the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific. The United States may experience more devastating terrorist attacks and an accelerated geopolitical realignment against its interests. A nuclear calamity, widely considered unthinkable since the late 1980s, could again become a real possibility.

The next administration will need to start with a sober evaluation of the world as it is, rather than as the president and top officials wish it to be. U.S. leaders will need to define vital national interests, with a realistic hierarchy of international priorities. They will need to review the extent to which current policies, including alliances, serve U.S. interests. And they will need to establish clear objectives in relations with rival major powers China and Russia. Then, and only then, will the next president be able to design policies that further both immediate needs and enduring strategic objectives.

So far, the two presidential candidates have demonstrated contrasting foreign-policy approaches. Hillary Clinton has showcased her experience, but has shown little willingness to question the conventional wisdom. Donald Trump has offered bold approaches, but has not explained how his administration would implement them, or how they might fit into a coherent strategy.

Nevertheless, Trump’s shortcomings as a messenger do nothing to ameliorate the need for a reappraisal of U.S. foreign policy that abandons triumphalist clichés, flawed assumptions and predetermined conclusions in favor of facts and serious analysis.

An honest appraisal of the world as it is, and of U.S. interests, capabilities and options, starts with accepting that U.S. actions have exacerbated some of today’s most ominous threats. This doesn’t mean blaming America first; terrorists conduct terrorist attacks, China is asserting its power in East Asia, and Russia annexed Crimea. Yet in each case, U.S. actions have tended to turn troublesome possibilities into dangerous realities.

THE UNITED STATES is hardly to blame for the Arab world’s woes—corruption and stagnation provided a fertile ground for Islamic extremism—and for similar problems in South Asia and elsewhere. But U.S. interventions have contributed to the menace of radicalism. Indeed, Al Qaeda’s origins in Afghanistan are inseparable from U.S. support for radical Islamist fighters resisting the Soviet invasion and U.S. decisions about post-Soviet Afghanistan. Toward the end of the war, Mikhail Gorbachev’s Soviet government proposed negotiations to establish a coalition government in Kabul. Sensing Moscow’s weak position, the usually pragmatic George H. W. Bush administration did not want to deprive the mujahideen of total victory by granting a role to the Soviet Union’s Afghan clients. Once Boris Yeltsin’s post-Soviet Russia ceased military support for the Kabul regime, Washington got its wish. Yet the incoming Clinton administration did little to fill the vacuum and allowed the Taliban to assume power and harbor Al Qaeda. As late as 1999, during a period of strained U.S.-Russia relations following NATO airstrikes in Serbia, Vladimir Putin proposed U.S.-Russia cooperation against the Taliban and Al Qaeda. It took until after 9/11, well after Islamist extremism had metastasized throughout the Greater Middle East, for the George W. Bush administration to agree to work in concert with Moscow in Afghanistan.

Likewise, U.S. policy in Iraq has contributed to new and unnecessary threats. Saddam Hussein was a genocidal dictator, but had no ties to anti-American terrorist groups that could justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, particularly in the absence of weapons of mass destruction. Nevertheless, if it was a mistake to go into Iraq in the first place, it was no less a mistake to abandon a weak government with limited control of its own territory and a recent history of violent internal conflict.

Outside Iraq, as instability spread from Tunisia to Egypt, Syria and Libya, the Obama administration called for the ouster of Bashar al-Assad’s secular authoritarian regime in Damascus. U.S. officials were trying to promote stability on one side of the Iraq-Syria border and regime change on the other—without investing much in either. That ISIS or a group like it would emerge from this was entirely predictable.

The same can be said of other U.S. choices in the Middle East, as in Libya, where the administration decapitated a repressive regime that had made peace with the United States without planning—or even intending—to assist in establishing order and security on the ground. Why were U.S. and NATO officials surprised that Libya became simultaneously safe for terrorists and unsafe for many of its citizens, who then fled to Europe?

AMERICAN POLICY in Europe has similarly failed. Washington is not responsible for either Russia’s assertive authoritarian government or its weak, and often corrupt, neighbors. In this environment, it was predictable that Russia would seek to recapture its past great-power status and an important regional role. Yet Moscow’s specific policy choices in Georgia, and later in Ukraine, were not inevitable; they were, in part, the result of deep divisions over pro-Western orientations and territorial integrity in these two countries. Russian leaders also considered Russia’s overall relationship with the United States and its allies and their own perception that Moscow’s preferences had not been adequately taken into account.

Few policies have alarmed Moscow as much as NATO’s expansion. Just as George F. Kennan predicted in a letter to the National Interest in 1998, NATO’s relentless expansion along Russia’s borders fed a nationalist and militaristic mood across the country’s political spectrum. A bold move as this almost literally moved NATO to the suburbs of St. Petersburg, incorporating Estonia and Latvia into NATO was especially difficult for Moscow to stomach. Although today more than 25 percent of Estonia and Latvia’s populations are ethnically Russian, this figure was significantly higher at the time of the Soviet collapse. After the Cold War, each state chose to disenfranchise the vast majority of its Russian-speaking population as well as other minority groups. Because post-independence Estonia and Latvia were continuations of states that existed between the First and Second World Wars, they asserted, only the descendants of those citizens could become citizens of the new states. Even many third-generation residents—meaning both they and their parents were born in Estonia or Latvia—were given second-class status, denied many jobs and deprived of participation in national politics.

Demographics produced political reality in the form of nationalist and anti-Russian governments. Granting those governments NATO membership confirmed Moscow’s suspicions that NATO remained what it was during the Cold War: an anti-Russian alliance. Worse for the United States, Washington and its allies extended their security umbrella to these states without assessing how to defend them short of war with a major nuclear power. Even if U.S. policy was guided by a genuine desire to ensure independence for these long-suffering nations, it was unreasonable to think that Washington could expand NATO—not to mention, promise Georgia and Ukraine eventual membership—without provoking Moscow’s countermove.

Few recall that Vladimir Putin originally sought to make Russia a major part of a united Europe. Instead, NATO expansion predictably fueled an us-versus-them mentality in Moscow, encouraging worst-case thinking about U.S. intentions. Russian leaders now see rearmament and the search for new allies as appropriate responses to a U.S. policy that is clearer in its denunciations of Russia than in its contributions to American national security.

Indeed, how can the United States benefit from new dividing lines in Europe reminiscent of the Cold War? For that matter, how can Latvia or Estonia become more secure as frontline states in a confrontation with an adversarial Russia?

The recent collapse of U.S.-Russia diplomacy in Syria has only worsened this problem. Moscow had essentially accepted U.S. and Western sanctions as a fact of life following its annexation of Crimea and, for two years, sought to demonstrate that Russia remained open for business on key international issues. However, this posture—an essential ingredient in Russia’s support for the Iran nuclear deal—appears to be evaporating and its principal advocate, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, now says that so long as the sanctions remain in effect, Russia will no longer work with the United States where it is to America’s advantage.

AMERICA-RUSSIA tensions are particularly troubling given how maladroitly Washington has approached its other major rival. In contrast to Russia, China is a full-scale superpower with a robust economy and an impressive culture of innovation. Given its underlying strengths, U.S. policy could not realistically have prevented China’s emergence as a leading power in the Asia-Pacific region. Still, this does not excuse Washington’s ongoing failure to develop a thoughtful long-term approach to the Chinese challenge.

As secretary of state, Hillary Clinton bears at least some responsibility for the deterioration in bilateral relations. After promising not to hector the Chinese about their domestic practices, Secretary Clinton could not resist the temptation to do just that. The point is not that the United States should neglect raising human-rights issues with Beijing. Rather, it is that Clinton’s approach, which sounded more like political posturing than an effort to produce tangible changes in Chinese conduct, was counterproductive. Her efforts accomplished little, other than fueling Beijing’s dark suspicions.

President Obama’s “pivot”—now known as “rebalance”—to Asia lent further credence to Chinese concerns over a hostile U.S. containment and regime-change policy. In addition to widely publicized military deployments and open discussion of U.S. capabilities to penetrate China’s anti-access/area denial systems, the “pivot” has also included the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a major regional trade agreement. The problem is not TPP itself, which could benefit the United States and its allies. Rather, it is that the Obama administration explicitly championed a defining U.S. initiative as a means to outmaneuver China in Asia’s economic architecture. “If we don’t write the rules,” the president declared, “China will write the rules out in that region.” [He's right, but you don't publicly say it]

This pattern of needlessly provoking China has become the norm. Consider one of countless examples: the Obama administration’s decision to encourage the Philippines’ legal challenge to Chinese claims in the South China Sea under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the U.S. Senate has refused to ratify. Why would the Obama administration believe that China would abide by the court’s decision when Beijing declared, at the outset, that it would not accept the legitimacy of the arbitration process? As Harvard’s Graham T. Allison has observed, “None of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council have ever accepted any international court’s ruling when (in their view) it infringed their sovereignty or national security interests.” The greatest practical consequence of this episode, it seems, is that others may be emboldened to press claims against Beijing that neither they nor the United States have the will to enforce. Picking fights it is not determined to win undermines America’s position.

Repeatedly provoking other great powers without being prepared to force their compliance with U.S. preferences may have dramatic global consequences. America’s well-intentioned desire to stand by its allies has catalyzed a geopolitical realignment to the detriment of American interests. China and Russia are now pursuing a rapprochement explicitly designed to check American power.

If terrorism is the most immediate threat to American security, a Beijing-Moscow partnership represents the greatest long-term danger to American global leadership. There are serious differences between China and Russia, and both have compelling stakes in avoiding serious confrontation with America and its allies. For all their differences, however, Chinese and Russian leaders share the perception that U.S. policy—including Washington’s support for their neighbors—amounts to a containment regime designed to keep them down. This perception is not insignificant. Beijing and Moscow can profoundly complicate the conduct of U.S. security and foreign policy without a formal alliance or overt hostility to America. Consider today’s realities, including China-Russia diplomatic coordination in the UN Security Council, a more permissive Russian attitude toward the transfer of advanced weapons systems to China, and increasingly large and complex joint military maneuvers. And this may only be the beginning.

UNFAVORABLE DYNAMICS in Europe and Asia point to a more fundamental flaw in U.S. strategy: an unwillingness to look critically at alliance commitments in relation to American interests and the current international environment. Broadly speaking, strong alliances are a key foundation of U.S. international leadership and a major contributor to national security. Yet alliances are human institutions, not religious relics, and deserve regular and thoughtful scrutiny to ensure that they serve their intended aims.

NATO, established after World War II to address the existential threat of Soviet imperialism, has in some cases committed the United States to unconditional security guarantees that were appropriate at the time, but are now of dubious wisdom in a different world. However ominous Russian policy toward its neighbors may be, it is difficult to see how most Eurasian conflicts impact vital U.S. interests. Russia’s heavy-handed conduct in the former Soviet Union, though troubling, is not an existential threat to the United States—not unless nuclear weapons become a factor. Sensible policies articulated from a position of strength can avert that outcome and make U.S. allies safer.

Meanwhile, countries that are routinely described as close American friends have done a great deal to endanger the sovereignty and security of the United States. Mexico has paid virtually no price for its failure to cooperate in limiting illegal immigration, which has profound consequences for the economy, security and society—and, over time, could even change the American electorate, without its consent. Supermajorities in Congress have held Saudi Arabia partly responsible for the 9/11 attacks, yet the U.S.-Saudi relationship has only expanded since the days when the Soviet threat and the high price of oil first drew the two countries together.

A bottom-up review of current alliances to assess their contributions to U.S. security, prosperity, values and leadership would be a sensible first step for the next administration. Relationships that contribute more trouble than security to America should be retooled or curtailed, using a scalpel rather than an axe. After all, collapsing the flawed structures and bad habits of the triumphalist post–Cold War years could prove worse than the status quo. Moreover, Washington must make clear how any changes will strengthen U.S. security and leadership and avoid adding to Obama-era international impressions of U.S. retreat and retrenchment.

One way to accomplish this is by setting clear expectations within alliance relationships. The NATO treaty’s well-known Article Five, which commits alliance members to consider an attack on one as an attack on all, requires America to “assist” its allies, but only through “such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force.” U.S. officials should explain to NATO allies that while America is committed to defending them in the event of an unprovoked attack, Article Five is not a license to engage in reckless or provocative conduct. Indeed, America’s defense commitment to Taiwan already incorporates this notion. Washington could also encourage leaders in especially vulnerable states like Estonia and Latvia to reflect more deliberately on the fact that U.S. efforts to defend or liberate their territory could lead to their utter devastation, even without escalation to tactical nuclear strikes by Moscow or Washington. They could also reflect on the ways in which their own words and deeds could make such a conflict more—or less—likely.

The West’s complex and contradictory relations with Russia and China are likely to retain adversarial elements for years to come. For this reason, American power remains a cornerstone of international security and U.S. alliances remain key tools. Nevertheless, new thinking on when and how to exercise power is long overdue. Too often, U.S. leaders have expended American resources on causes incidental to vital interests.

This is not a call to avoid using force or a banal statement that force should be but a last resort. On the contrary, in some circumstances, force may be the most appropriate instrument and thus a first resort. At the same time, military preponderance is a key tool in ensuring successful diplomacy on U.S. terms; its value is in the leverage it provides in securing fundamental American interests, not its regular employment to achieve peripheral aims. In the same spirit, Washington should acknowledge that the liberal use of economic sanctions has surely contributed its fair share to human misery and is not inherently less costly to America or less threatening to its targets than armed conflict. In considering whether to employ military power, economic coercion or other tools, Washington should assess costs, benefits and risks—including unintended consequences—much more systematically and frankly.

If the next president pursues a new strategy, he or she should expect resistance from America’s entrenched foreign-policy establishment. Recent fiascos from Iraq to Libya have been bipartisan affairs, and many will seek to defend their records. Similarly, foreign-policy elites in both parties have internalized the notion that “American exceptionalism” is a license to intervene in other countries and that “universal aspirations” guarantee American success.

Despite the presence of many individuals of common sense and integrity in government, U.S. leaders have too often forgotten that jumping off a cliff is easier than climbing back to safety. Notwithstanding the election of some well-informed and thoughtful individuals to the Senate and House of Representatives, the Congress has largely abdicated its responsibility to foster serious debate on foreign policy and has failed to fulfill its constitutional role as a check on executive power. The mainstream media has become an echo chamber for a misbegotten and misguided consensus.

But Americans can no longer afford to accept bad policies in the hopes that things will somehow work out. Today’s world is too complex and too dangerous, with more major powers, less discipline among international blocs and factions, and greater power for nonstate actors. In the past, geography and American power allowed Washington to make serious mistakes at relatively low cost. In the future, the United States will not be able to count on this luxury. With determined leadership, the same executive power that has been used so irresponsibly over the past two decades can put the country back on a sustainable path, with periodic course corrections from an active Congress and a discerning media. The next president cannot single-handedly fix the Congress or the media, but he or she can and should take a hard look at the executive branch, particularly the bloated National Security Council. Of course, any significant change in U.S. foreign policy will also require the new president to select top officials based on their alignment with his or her objectives and style rather than political correctness or perfect résumés. To do otherwise would be to sabotage any efforts at change from the start.

America’s challenges are real, but hardly insurmountable. Fortunately, if the 2016 presidential campaign has demonstrated anything, it is that the American people are frustrated with post–Cold War foreign policy—so a determined and skillful president will have an important opportunity for a new beginning.

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Jackson Diehl, The Washington Post  /  October 16, 2016

In the fall of 2004 Vladi­mir Putin suffered a blow he has never forgotten. The fraudulent election of a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian president, which Putin had directly and brazenly engineered, was overturned by a massive popular uprising. What came to be known as the “Orange Revolution” created a model for resistance to rigged elections in autocracies across Eurasia — in Kyrgyzstan, Belarus, Azerbaijan and, in 2012, Russia itself.

Most of the rebellions didn’t succeed. But Putin developed an obsession with “color revolutions,” which he is convinced are neither spontaneous nor locally organized, but orchestrated by the United States — and in the case of the Moscow protests four years ago, by Hillary Clinton herself.

That’s the context in which Russia’s intervention in the 2016 U.S. presidential election must be understood. Putin is trying to deliver to the American political elite what he believes is a dose of its own medicine. He is attempting to ignite — with the help, unwitting or otherwise, of Donald Trump — a U.S. color revolution.

Let’s look at the way those revolts unfolded. In every case, they pitted an outsider political movement against an entrenched elite willing to employ fraud and force to remain in power. The outsiders mobilized their followers to collect evidence of rigging on election day and, when they could, conducted exit polls and “quick counts” to obtain vote totals they could contrast with official results. They disseminated their findings through satellite channels and other foreign media. When the inevitable victory of the ruling party was announced, they called their followers to the streets for mass protests they hoped would cause the regime to crumble — or at least discredit its phony election triumph.

Of course, Trump’s populist campaign is no more comparable to the pro-democracy insurgencies in formerly Soviet lands such as Ukraine and Belarus than Clinton’s administration-in-waiting is to the Putin regime. But Putin’s audacious goal is to create the illusion that they are. “He’s trying to establish that our system is just as bad, just as corrupt, as his,” says Brian Whitmore, a senior editor of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.

The first step of the campaign was to hack the computers of the Democratic National Committee and senior party figures and distribute — sometimes with alterations — material that was purported to show Clinton’s rigging of the system. The DNC was revealed, unsurprisingly, to lean against socialist-turned-Democrat Bernie Sanders; Clinton’s campaign team was shown to be making political calculations about her public statements. As if on cue, Trump and his surrogates responded with mock shock and charges of “corruption.”

Next came the suggestions that the balloting itself might be tampered with. Most likely, that was the point of the hacking probes into the voting systems of more than 20 states, including key battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania and Florida. A joint statement by the Department of Homeland Security and the office of the Director of National Intelligence said it was unlikely voting systems could be tampered with “to alter actual ballot counts or election results.” But the reports of cyber-intrusions are by themselves enough to damage public confidence — which may be the point.

Trump meanwhile plays his part; he could not be doing more to aid the Kremlin’s narrative if he were reading from a script. (Which in some cases, he literally is: See his citation last week of a Clinton-related email doctored by the Moscow-run Sputnik news service.) Repeatedly warning that the election may be rigged, Trump has been enlisting his supporters as observers to watch “certain areas” he is likely to lose, such as Philadelphia. His “Stop the Steal” movement is planning to conduct its own exit polls outside key precincts. Its inevitable reports of “irregularities” will provide the predicate for Trump to claim fraud.

That, in turn, will prompt reactions like that already heard from a Trump supporter at a Mike Pence rally last week. After raising the specter of rigging, she said: “If Hillary Clinton gets in, I myself, I’m ready for a revolution, because we can’t have her in.” After a thousand cable broadcasts of that moment, Putin surely was still smiling.

And the revolution? Putin understands that Washington is not Kiev; mobs are unlikely to mass in front of the White House or Congress. But rebellions can happen online: Imagine a blizzard of Internet posts, reinforced by the Kremlin’s paid trolls, its satellite television network and the Trumpian corners of Fox, alleging that what Trump calls the “political establishment” has stolen the election for Clinton.

That wouldn’t stop Clinton from taking office — any more than the Bolotnaya Square protest in Moscow prevented Putin’s presidential inauguration in May 2012. But Clinton would start her term politically wounded, both domestically and abroad. Putin will have obtained payback. And Trump will have shown himself to be a most useful idiot.

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48 minutes ago, Underdog said:

Bill Maher lost mein the first 3 minutes when he called me a deplorable knuckle dragger. Typical elitist attitude, the smartest guy in the room, completely out of touch with average Americans. But the alternative reality he speaks of is his own privileged existence. He says Trump supporters are not as bad off as we think, with average incomes of $72,000. Excuse me, but I bust my ass to make more than that, and it's still paycheck to paycheck, not much more. 25 years ago, I made about 2/3 of my current income and was much better off. $15 minimum wage won't even pay the rent nowadays. Maher says Hillary will be steady on the current course set by Obama. I'm sorry but 8 more years will destroy America's exceptionalism. We need to CHANGE course and stop trying to be like the rest of the world. There is a reason why immigrants want to be here. We have built the greatest nation on earth in less than 300 years and the rest of the world should try to be like us, not the other way around. Capitalism and free markets work, every time.

I'm confident that you and I share a lot of thoughts.

My observation is that the costs of living, the costs of doing business, have risen faster than our incomes have risen. We've actually been in this trend for decades, and shrugged it off for years. But now, we're reaching the break-even point. And, upon reaching this point after working so hard for decades, we're quite frankly bitter about it, and rightly so!

Many people still coming here from overseas are doing so because of an information lag. They're unaware that things here are not as rosy as they used to be, as you pointed out. The rest, well, any western developed country is still better than where they're from. 

I posted the Mahrer interview because he presented some valid points. Everyone is going to have some thoughts you agree with, and some you don't.

From day one, I've disagreed with the notion of having a president beginning office at age 70 (Trump is 70, Hillary 69 next Wednesday). The job is literally 24/7, and consider the mental and physical demands of the job (And nobody should be in Congress beyond age 70).

Based on what information we are told, perhaps 15% of it being complete and accurate, neither nominee is a high caliber individual with integrity who is capable of uniting the vast majority of the American people behind a well crafted plan for resolving our domestic issues, regaining respect, trust and thus stature around the world so as to restore global stability, and take us successfully into the future. We can't have half of the American people sitting out the game. Only when 90+ percent are in, can we achieve success. A true presidential individual brings the people of America together, rather than dividing them (e.g. Teddy Roosevelt, FDR). We're in a real mess, there's no beating around the bush. Even in a best case scenario, it would take a superb individual and an element of luck to get us back on the right track.

I completely agree that we need a massive course change. But we need a president. I personally don't feel that either one of these colorful individuals are presidential material.

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It is interesting you point out age limits for Congress... Term limits could solve that problem. It is not meant to be a lifetime appointment. But also to your point about voter participation, it is a product of our own well being. Even the poorest folks in the United States enjoy a higher standard of living than many third world nations, and people become complacent as long as their situation doesn't get any worse. Funny how those third world nations get very high voter turnout where citizens have little to lose, but value it greatly.

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Just four years ago, Donald Trump presented a drastically different position on illegal immigrants in the United States.

Since he announced his candidacy last June, Trump has promised to build a wall on the US border with Mexico and deport all or many of the estimated 11 million undocumented [illegal] immigrants living in the country. [And rightly so.]

However, in a June 2012 CNBC interview, Trump said he didn't believe in deporting undocumented immigrants who "had done a great job."

"You know my views on it and I'm not necessarily, I think I'm probably down the middle on that also,” said Trump. “Because I also understand how, as an example, you have people in this country for 20 years, they've done a great job, they've done wonderfully, they've gone to school [for free], they've gotten good marks, they're productive — now we're supposed to send them out of the country, I don't believe in that. I don't believe in a lot things that are being said."



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If a politician was totally honest, you'd never elect them. At the federal level, an honest politician would tell you that we need to both raise taxes and cut waste to drive the deficit down, and we'd never vote for them. At the state level, an honest politician would tell you that we need to raise gas taxes and utility fees to fix our infrastructure while cutting waste in healthcare, and we'd never vote for them. Same at the local government level, with $$$ going to questionable environmental projects while the infrastructure fails... Tell the voters you need to increase taxes to fix the infrastructure and we won't buy any more solar arrays until that's done, and good luck getting elected. We get the politicians we deserve...

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No, we get the politicians the corporations, unions and  wealth buy in trade for contracts and perks. All bought and paid for right down to the lowest "public" official. HRC is already  going the be the potus, the promises and deals are cut and dry.


 “Life’s journey is not to arrive at the grave safely, in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting ‘Holy shit, what a ride!’


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One Government program that needs to be changed is protecting union contractors when bidding on federal road jobs, if you cannot compete in a open market you don't get the work, instead every one pays the high rate and the taxpayer (mostly non union) get less work for more money complete waste of tax dollars. We could repair and build more roads if it were not for the inflated hourly wage to protect union workers.

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