Yeah, whatever you say, Jerry Sanders

"We understand that PR people may help others with op-eds."

Jerry Sanders

Former mayor Jerry Sanders now heads the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce — a job that, some say, he might as well have had while he was mayor.

On August 19 of last year, an essay under Sanders's byline, touting the Trans-Pacific Partnership (called TPP), appeared as an op-ed in the Union-Tribune. The piece, titled "Trans-Pacific trade pact benefits San Diego," lauded the pending pact and local politicians who back it.

The Intercept is an online publication launched two years ago and features well-known journalists such as Glenn Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill. On April 10, a writer for The Intercept took a look at Sanders's ringing prose in the U-T.

Alan Ziegaus

Alan Ziegaus

from Southwest Strategies website

"Much of the language in Sanders's op-ed also appears in a 'San Diego Draft op-ed' distributed by Southwest Strategies, a consulting firm paid by the Japanese government to promote the [trade pact]," says The Intercept. Here are some stark similarities:

Chris Wahl

Chris Wahl

from Southwest Strategies website

"Sanders: 'Notably, the TPP includes Japan, which is significant.'

"Southwest Strategies: 'Notably, the TPP includes Japan, which is critical.'

"Sanders: 'Trade is essential for sustaining America's role as the most innovative economy in the world.'

"Southwest Strategies: 'Trade is essential for sustaining America's role as the most innovative economy in the world.'

"Sanders: 'With more than 95 percent of the world's consumers outside of our borders, and with more than one in five U.S. jobs dependent on trade, it is essential that the U.S. continue to open new markets for American goods and services, while creating and sustaining jobs for American workers.'

"Southwest Strategies: 'With more than 95 percent of the world's consumers outside of our borders, and with more than one in five U.S. jobs dependent on trade, it is critical that the U.S. continue to open new markets for American goods, intellectual property rights and services and create and sustain high-skilled, high-wage jobs for American workers.'"

Matthew Hall, who oversees opinion pieces for the U-T, told The Intercept, "We do request that op-eds be exclusive to the San Diego Union-Tribune. We understand that PR people may help others with op-eds and that some op-eds may contain talking points articulated elsewhere."

On its website, Southwest Strategies, the lobbying-PR firm formed in 2000 by Alan Ziegaus and Chris Wahl,  boasts, "We are a full-service public affairs and communications firm that specializes in securing government entitlements." In other words, "If you want corporate welfare, come to us."

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American workers are not getting the jobs outside markets create. Nice line of bull though, for your old Union-Tribune controlled media output. Are we turning Chinese?

shirleyberan: Yes, the propaganda for TPP is disgusting. I believe in free trade, but NAFTA and TPP, and other trade deals, are one-sided, and American workers are the losers. American companies can make out, but their employees don't. Best, Don Bauder

Mr Hudson is giving Mr Sanders the benefit of substantial doubt when he "agrees with the concept" of public relations agents. It is unreasonable to expect a busy local politician to be well versed in an issue as complex and obscure as international trade treaties, so he could either have his staff research the issue and write a statement reflecting impact on his constituency or just play dumb. The second option is often the best, honesty being that kind of policy.

Bob Hudson: Oh yes, an op-ed written by a politician is generally written by somebody on his or her staff. Putting the politician's byline on something mainly written by a lobbying firm is questionable, but after all, laws enacted in Congress are written by lobbyists.

I thought this case was really interesting because, according to The Intercept, the lobbying firm (Southwest Strategies) was working for Japan. The piece touted the positive effects that would benefit Americans, but it was Japan paying for the propaganda. Best, Don Bauder

Elizabeth Mueller 1: I must say I am interested in what Bernie Sanders says about our trade deals, and what Hillary Clinton does not say. Actually, Donald Trump seems to have an understanding of the deficiencies in our trade deals, but his opinions on other matters (particularly related to immigration) are so repugnant that they offset his seemingly correct position on trade deals. Best, Don Bauder

@Don respectfully I suggest that what Donald Trump understands most about trade deals is that his constituents really get riled up when he brings up free trade and NAFTA and bashes them. I doubt Trump could cogently answer even the most basic questions of trade agreements and the global economy. Like always he sells the sizzle but there is no steak.

qpodad: No question about that. He throws out statements but can't back them up. Recently he released what he claimed were his charitable contributions. It turned out he was counting all kinds of bizarre things, particularly contributions that were not made with his own money. Voters have GOT to figure this guy out. Best, Don Bauder

@Don - he also counted (and I think the amount was in the millions) free rounds of golf given away. Not sure how "needy" the typical person golfing at a trump resort is, but I am guessing not needy at all. All the donations were from his foundation, to which he had not personally donated anything for years. He's got chutzpah, I'll give him that.

qpodad: That list of his so-called charitable giving was stacked with bizarre and fundamentally dishonest claims, such as the free golf one that you cite. Best, Don Bauder

Trump's comments about Mexico sending over "murderers and rapists" were offensive.

But many of his proposals are common sense. Building a wall is a complete no-brainer. Low cost and would help enforce the laws. Are you opposed to the idea of building a wall Don? I haven't heard any good reasons not to; I'm wondering if you have any.

ImJustABill: Building a wall and expecting Mexico to pay for it is absurd. Mexico is ailing financially; trying to force a neighbor to pay for our wall would be considered worldwide as an act of chauvinistic hostility.

I don't like walls. I like breaking down walls. Best, Don Bauder

I think there are some difficult decisions to be made regarding immigration and some easy decisions. The hard decision is the fate of reported 10M - 15M undocumented immigrants in the US right now.

There is NO fair and practical solution to that question. If we let the undocumented immigrants stay that is grossly unfair to prospective immigrants who follow our rules. There are 10's of millions of people worldwide who want to emigrate to the US and are following the application procedures legally. It's not fair to give priority to those who came in illegally.

On the other hand, in a way there's been a tacit off-the-books agreement to not enforce the laws. The US has been intentionally ignoring immigration enforcement (led by GOP business leaders who want cheap labor) for so long that in a way the unofficial policy has been to let any immigrant who comes into the US through the southern border and stays out of trouble gets to stay. It's almost a squatter's rights situation - if you let someone stay on your property long enough and don't ask them to leave then you almost have to let them stay. It's not fair to break up families and kick people out after we've allowed them to stay so long.

So it's unfair to let the illegal immigrants stay but it's unfair to kick them out.

Moreover, physically deporting all of the illegal immigrants would certainly be difficult (at the minimum) to do and would raise many legal and ethical questions.

So I think some compromise solution allowing the illegal immigrants now in the country to stay but with some penalties and requirements would seem to be the least unfair compromise between 2 unfair choices.

The easy part of the decision is whether or not we should enforce immigration laws. We have immigration laws, they should be enforced. Building a wall would be an easy and inexpensive way to help enforce laws which are not being enforced. I don't really care who pays for it - the cost would be fairly trivial.

I don't like law enforcement. I don't really like having highly armed police, IRS audits, FBI. But they are necessary to enforce laws. I don't like the idea of a wall at our southern border. But it may be necessary to enforce immigration laws.

A better way to enforce the laws, BTW would have been the "self-deportation" (suggested by Mitt Romney) which would occur if we actually enforced hiring laws for employers. Most illegal immigrants are here for jobs - take the jobs away and most of them would leave voluntarily. But recent presidents haven't want those laws enforced. It's harder to tear down a wall once it's built.

In summary, my thoughts are -

What should we do with illegal immigrants in the country now? Hard decision. Should we enforce immigration laws? Easy decision.

ImJustABill: As Jimmy Carter said, "Life isn't fair." The problems you cite won't be dealt with on a basis of fairness. They will be dealt with on a basis of expediency, 'Twas ever thus.

You are correct that there are only bad choices in this matter. I wouldn't just blame Republican businessmen who want cheap labor. Don't forget Democratic politicians who want votes.

Our only consolation, I suppose, is that the emigration woes in the Middle East and Europe are far more vexing than our immigration problems. Best, Don Bauder

All true Don. And our consolation for potentially hundreds of millions of tax money on an NFL stadium will be that at least we didn't spend billions on olympic stadiums and facilities.

ImJustABill: True. If all we had to look forward to wold be a hosting of an Olympics, things would be bleak indeed. Hosting an Olympics is a one-way ticket to economic perdition. Best, Don Bauder

Elizabeth Mueller 2: Shirleyberan's comment on this blog about trade deals hardly make her a shill. In her statement here, she shows contempt for trade deals. Best, Don Bauder

rehftmann: Yes, I don't think one can compare a politician putting his name on something written by a staffer with a politician putting his name on prose written by a lobbying firm, particularly when that firm is actually working for another country. In this case, the essay was all about how TPP would benefit Americans, but Japan was paying the bill. Best, Don Bauder

It was right when you said Sanders words come from a lobbying firm. Elizabeth is shrill.

shirleyberan: Such poetry! She calls you a shill and you call her shrill. T.S. Eliot couldn't have done better. Best, Don Bauder

Don - Sanders and Silvergate Bank VP Dino D'Auria were just on KUSI news explaining in a sincere/shady manipulative lie way, how their plan will bring necessary jobs.

shirleyberan: Which plan? Sanders touts TPP but it also in favor of the lunatic convadium plan pushed by the Chargers. Best, Don Bauder

The American worker and the economy has been sold out to free trade. Yes we need trade but that trade must be fair not free. Under the various free trade agreements we had diminished or destroyed good paying jobs and replaced them with McJobs which do nothing but invest in future poverty. We are careening toward a two class system of the haves and the working poor. The worker has been left behind and have been devalued. Employees have become expendable since the advent of "human resources" considered a resource to be used and tossed aside. Considering the current presidential front runners we are headed for civil war.

I bet he get static burns hopping from one pocket to the nest in such rapid succession.

Murphyjunk: When a politician is in some mogul's pocket, chances are he is picking it. Best, Don Bauder

AlexClarke: Unfortunately, you have fingered a major problem. And it is not just so-called "free trade" that has done in the American worker. Corporate greed is also a villain. American corporations have no conscience. They will do anything to run profits and their stocks up, thus justifying top level compensation that is already ridiculously high.

You might argue that corporations have never had a conscience, but I can remember days when companies figured that they had several constituencies: employees, communities, vendors, stockholders, the environment. Now stockholders -- particularly the large institutional and the insider ones -- are the only constituency. That is one reason we have so much fraud and we have phony earnings that are produced through financial engineering.

By destroying the middle class, American corporations have destroyed their own markets. Best, Don Bauder

This being a matter of our local business in the world market and the drift of power from local people to the global plutocracy, consider the poor San Diego worker. We recently had a tuna fleet with services and restaurants, to say nothing of making national products (Bumble Bee) here. We recently made clothes (Ratners) and kept an army of sewing machines humming. We just gave up major factories for aeronautics and all the parts and services that go into them, employing welders, engineers, draftsman, machinists, office workers… This used to be the flower capital of the world, or close enough… Now what can a young San Diegan get a work doing? A part-time job at a national chain business for less than living wage. Was not being able to earn a living worth buying cheap stuff at Walmart? (And no more mom'n'pop stores, either.) So exactly who is Jerry Sanders representing? What San Diego business? Or is he spinning up the death spiral of local economy for the benefit of big business?

rehftmann: San Diego still has some very good companies that have local employment -- Qualcomm, Jack in the Box, Illumina for just three. But San Diego has still not recovered from the loss of aerospace jobs in the early 1990s -- particularly the loss of General Dynamics.

The late Milton Friedman, an economist whom I interviewed frequently and admired greatly (although disagreeing with him on many key points), preached that floating exchange rates would equilibrate differences among currencies, thus ironing out some of the trade imbalances. It didn't work out that way, although I would hardly want to go back to worldwide fixed exchange rates. Best, Don Bauder

Exchange rates paint with the largest brush. It's not international balance of trade, it's about making a living here. Those "big" companies you named don't add up to one Convair or the aggregate of all the sole proprietor businesses that get displaced by big box and online businesses. San Diego's economy always stood on one leg, the Navy. We don't have our share of Fortune 500 or major manufacturing business, so it isn't just balance of trade that's making it tough to make a living here. Beyond quantity of jobs is the quality. Q is hardly the poster child for benevolent HR practices, given its propensity for finding ways to keep employees on tenterhooks with stock deals instead of job security, out sourcing in house, and drop kicking 1500 employees while the big guys accept big bonuses. Hardly a worker's paradise. HP has over a thousand workers on a beautiful campus in Rancho Bernardo, but I'd hate to bet the mortgage on the stability of that company. Jack in the Box is another home grown success but compare their business model with the tuna fleet. (Compare the cultural and health value of the food product too.) Make the comparison easy: Compare Jack, the putative CEO, with any tuna fisherman you ever met. Things just ain't the way they used to be. It's the effect of capitalist values above labor values. The international fungibility of capital and corporate veil tilt opportunity in favor of them that got. The balance isn't between China and US, its between owners and workers. As you say, corporations' constituency are purposely limited to stock holders, which is to say a disembodied pool of owners whose loyalty is to themselves and not the business, its workers, or customers.

rehftmann: I agree with most of what you say. I was a conservative Republican until I realized that pure capitalism was leading to a societally destructive maldistribution of wealth and income.

Corporations are incapable today of caring about the general welfare, the community, environment, employees. Greed is the only variable. Wrongly, I thought corporations would show some responsibility. They haven't, and won't. Best, Don Bauder

Don Bauder: How contrary! You're drifting against the wisdom of the ages, thankfully. We're supposed to become more conservative with age. How long will you have to live before you turn into a hippie and give up the opera tickets for DeadHead tie dyed T?

Greed is constant in capitalism. Why on earth should a company grow? It would be natural for it to mature, evolve, or even wither but investors require it to increase value faster than the carrot of inflation.

Henry Ford, for all his other social misconceptions, understood that his workers needed to make enough money to become customers. Were he alive today, he might expect Foxconn workers to be able to afford iPhones. The fact that they are Chinese and not American shouldn't be a factor. The man that offered his product in black, period, would be appalled at the typical American garage which is filled with hoarded bargains made for wages and under conditions no American would tolerate for a single day. There's no room in that garage for their "domestic" car, maybe a Ford, which made of materials and parts, investments, assemblies, and administrative services from around globe.

The international trade balance seen at that level of detail and scope of accounting becomes as complex as forecasting the weather for next month. Talking about it doesn't get closer to the truth. How else can we explain a world wide major recession that caught everybody by surprise. Almost everybody. Enough people that it could occur, certainly. It wasn't the weather, after all, it was a man-made global disaster. Ride the Tiger (reference to Jefferson Starship lyrics, not opera, but heavy, man).

rehftmann: Henry Ford was an enigma. Yes, he shocked -- and disturbed -- other business executives when he paid his workers such excellent salaries for those days. But later in his life, when Ford Motor had extremely bad relations with its unions, Ford hired goons to assault his own employees.

As to giving up opera, classical and chamber music, I already do when our sons, daughter-in-law, and grandsons come to visit us.

When our sons were young, I was on the board of San Diego Opera. We took both of them, both pre-adolescents, to opera rehearsals. They saw about a dozen of them, and at least one son professed to enjoy them. One son still has nothing to do with serious music. The other and his wife are showing definite interest. Best, Don Bauder

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