January 21, 2015 archive

Are you ready for Hillary?

NAFTA, TPP & The Clinton Global Initiative’s “Free Trade” Activism

By Gaius Publius, Crooks & Liars

1/21/15 10:36am

(L)et’s fix three pieces in our brains:

  • Before NAFTA passed, Bill Clinton, Pete Peterson and a raft of “pre-NAFTA economic studies” predicted one million new jobs, increased exports, and a lower trade deficit.
  • After NAFTA passed, we lost one million jobs, increased imports, and increased the trade deficit by a factor of almost 5.
  • Pro-NAFTA companies, who promised to create new jobs here, moved existing jobs abroad almost as soon as it was signed.

The third piece counts. Clinton claims to have been mistaken on free-trade policy (as opposed to having been knowingly complicit with the damage). But I can’t imagine either Peterson or any American CEO didn’t have the obvious stapled in front of them – that when it’s cheaper to export jobs, you export jobs and pocket the cash. That NAFTA was going to be a gift of cash from the day it was conceived.

In other words, NAFTA was designed by its creators to export jobs, and “predictions” to the contrary were just propaganda. CEO substitution rule: When they mention “more jobs,” they always mean “more profit.”

The next NAFTA is called “TPP” (the Trans-Pacific Partnership), there’s a trans-Atlantic version in the wings (called, TPIP), and Barack Obama is playing the Clinton game with both. He and his corporate-controlled friends are pushing for them, starting with TPP, hoping that a Republican Congress can give him what a Democratic Congress could not.

Of course they’re promising “more jobs” again, but the deal itself and the negotiations are in secret, and they’ll only allow a vote under “Fast Track” rules – no amendments, just an up-or-down vote. All of this to promote deceptively named “free trade,” meaning freedom for the global holders of wealth to do whatever they want with it anywhere in the world.

Keep all this in mind when the phrase “lesser evil” turns up again in 2016. Just as Hillary Clinton is a carbon candidate (click to see why), she’s a “free trade” TPP candidate as well. Yes, she once said … sorta, under pressure of a political campaign … that NAFTA could have been better (“has not lived up to its promises”).

(T)he Clinton Foundation’s CGI is used as an agent of neoliberal policies. Swenson’s whole section on this is worth reading.

The do-gooder aspect of the Clinton family’s CGI – yes, family; the official name of the umbrella organization is “Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation” – obscures its definition of “good.” The organization promotes these “good” things – more carbon emissions in the form of fracked methane (“America’s natural gas”), privately-owned schools, privately-owned public infrastructure like bridges and roads – and it does so by hosting forums presented people like Robert Rubin, fracked methane CEOs, and other billionaire beneficiaries of these policies.

CGI sells “energy independence” – meaning continuing profits for “U.S.” oil and gas companies.

CGI sells privatized education, and road and bridge repair financed with “public-private partnerships”.

“Public-private partnership” means using corporate money to finance public needs, then giving the bulk of the benefit back to the corporation in the form of profit (most of which lines CEO-class pockets). Think parking meters in Chicago.

CGI also promotes studies in “behavioral psychology” to find better ways to influence (“nudge” … “gently urge”) changes in public behavior that benefit the billionaires.

The U.S. television viewer is already heavily “influenced” (nudged; propagandized) by what she watches. There’s a science to it, and CGI wants to help billionaires harness that science to their benefit.

All in all, the bottom line is clear. The piece closes by noting the obvious contradiction – how can a “meeting of one-percenters” address problems their own policies, eagerly pursued, are causing?

What’s the goal of CGI? The answer has to be – to prop up the One Percent (actually the 0.001%, the 1% of the 1%) while appearing to do good, or by doing enough good to appear to be all-good.

As to CGI’s managers, from the Clintons on down, are they failing to solve global economic problems out of ignorance of the obvious – that their proposed “solutions” are in fact the cause? Or are they failing for some other reason? If trade deals, to pick just one issue, are so bad for the average worker, are they too … what, dumb? … to see that, or too venal to cop to it?

And what about the Clintons themselves? What causes this family to collect millions for a foundation loved by “do-gooder” billionaires – and likely funded by them – a foundation that promotes policies that keep these people rich and the rest of us poor, despite its stated objectives?

There are several ways to answer these questions, some social, some intellectual, some financial. None is flattering.

I want to tie up this bundle. This is in part about TPP, but it’s also about Hillary Clinton and what CGI says about how she would act if elected. I want to ask three questions:

  • Is there any question that NAFTA and TPP are good only for billionaires?
  • Is there any question that the Clinton Global Initiative promotes billionaire policies, including but not limited to job-killing “free trade” deals?
  • Is there any question that CGI’s activism represents policy directions that all of the Clintons, CGI principals, approve of?

And a fourth question:

  • If the answers above are No, No, and No, how is Hillary Clinton the “lesser evil” on America’s most important domestic issue, extreme and worsening economic inequality?

I’m not sure I can answer that in a way that comforts left-leaning 2016 voters.

Is the State of the Union Economically Strong?

Just how strong is the US economy? In his sixth State of the Union address, President Barack Obama touted it strength and made proposals that would make it stronger but how does that hold up in the face the recessions in European and Asian countries? Real News senior editor, Paul Jay discusses the real state of the union with William K. Black, professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City, and James S. Henry, economist, attorney and investigative journalist.

Transcript can be read here


On This Day In History January 21

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 21 is the 21st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 344 days remaining until the end of the year (345 in leap years).

On this day in 1911, the first Monte Carlo Rally takes place.

The Monte Carlo Rally (officially Rallye Automobile Monte-Carlo) is a rallying event organised each year by the Automobile Club de Monaco who also organises the Formula One Monaco Grand Prix and the Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique . The rally takes place along the French Riviera in the Principality of Monaco and southeast France.

From its inception in 1911 by Prince Albert I, this rally, under difficult and demanding conditions, was an important means of testing the latest improvements and innovations to automobiles. Winning the rally gave the car a great deal of credibility and publicity. The 1966 event was the most controversial in the history of the Rally. The first four finishers driving three Mini-Coopers, Timo Makinen, Rauno Aaltonen and Paddy Hopkirk, and Roger Clark‘s 4th-placed Ford Cortina “were excluded for having iodine vapour, single filament bulbs in their standard headlamps instead of double-filament dipping bulbs.”  This elevated Pauli Toivonen (Citroen ID) into first place overall. The controversy that followed damaged the credibility of the event. The headline in Motor Sport: “The Monte Carlo Fiasco.”

From 1973 to 2008 the rally was held in January as the first event of the FIA World Rally Championship, but since 2009 it has been the opening round of the Intercontinental Rally Challenge (IRC) programme. As recently as 1991, competitors were able to choose their starting points from approximately five venues roughly equidistant from Monte Carlo (one of Monaco’s administrative areas) itself. With often varying conditions at each starting point, typically comprising dry tarmac, wet tarmac, snow, and ice, sometimes all in a single stage of the rally. This places a big emphasis on tyre choices, as a driver has to balance the need for grip on ice and snow with the need for grip on dry tarmac. For the driver, this is often a difficult choice as the tyres that work well on snow and ice normally perform badly on dry tarmac.

The Automobile Club de Monaco confirmed on 19 July 2010 that the 79th Monte-Carlo Rally would form the opening round of the new Intercontinental Rally Challenge season. To mark the centenary event, the Automobile Club de Monaco have also confirmed that Glasgow, Barcelona, Warsaw and Marrakesh has been selected as start points for the rally.

Late Night Karaoke

The Daily/Nightly Show (Froo, Froo, Froofy The Dog)

What do we know now?

Shenaz Treasury is a regular.  We’re going to get a monologue followed by an extended panel discussion (in addition to Treasury, last night we had Talib Kweli, Bill Burr, and Corey Booker).

The Boston Globe says, “Comedy Central appears to have come up with a worthy partner to “The Daily Show,” with Stewart and Wilmore as the salt and pepper shakers of late-night TV.”

I have mixed feelings about that kind of praise.  The Nightly Show should not be judged on ‘diversity’ criteria as if it were a Short Bus special needs collection of tribal integration but on whether it is funny and enlightening.  My verdict is more enlightening than funny.  It moves very quickly indeed and the panel is intelligent and respectful.  This is not Three Stooges slapstick (not that there is anything wrong with that).

Brian Moylan at The Guardian loves that.

I wish The Nightly Show would get rid of the monologue altogether (or shorten it considerably) so that Wilmore could do what no one else is doing in late night and talk to other people well and intelligently. It’s hard enough for adults to squeeze a meaningful conversation about complex topics into 30 minutes and it’s even harder when the show is only devoted to the panel about half the time.

His favorite part is the ending segment, ‘Keeping It 100’, as in 100% Real.  In the premier Wilmore and his staff picked the questions for the panel members and his question was picked only by the staff- ‘What’s the last racist thought you had?’

Viewers are invited to submit our own questions in the future via Twitter.  Tonight’s topic is Bill Cosby.  Since we are nothing but slaves to media culture, of course we had to submit our own-

Is it true Cosby and Culp had a sexual affair while filming I Spy?

We expect we’ll be doing this every night so if you have a strong suggestion, post it and we’ll pass it along.


What does your cat do all day?

This week’s guests-

The Daily Show

Jennifer Lopez will be on to whore The Boy Next Door which will be released Friday.  The film was shot in 23 days and probably looks like every minute of it.

The real news and Elmer Gantry’s web exclusive extended interview below.

State Of The Union 2015 Open Thread

If you must.  I’ll be watching Moonshiners and Big Giant Swords on Discovery.

Remember, it’s not what you say, it’s what you do.