Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Secret Ceremony

If you missed the gala signing of the much-ballyhooed free trade bill Friday in the Rose Garden, it's because it didn't happen. Now, before you get all excited: the President didn't have an attack of conscience and veto it. He did his duty to his corporate masters and signed it with all due somber diligence, to their enthusiastic applause. However, there was a change of venue, which is what accused people ask for when they know das volk are kind of fed up, and Occupying Wall Street. His advisers probably told him: If you're going to flush away as many as a quarter million American jobs down the offshoring toilet, better to do it in the safety and comfort of the Oval Office.

Barry Take a Bow: CEOs Applaud Their Puppet in Semi-Darkness

Witnessing the deed was one lone Yellow Dog Dem, the nominal Labor Secretary, an AP photographer, and a handful of the richest and most powerful CEOs in the nation  -- who just happen to be among his closest advisers. 

There was no big official White House photo on the email propaganda sheet known as "West Wing Week", which usually glorifies bill signings, no matter how insignificant.  No MSNBC and CNN cameras. No Nancy Pelosi. No John Boehner. No phonily smiling American workers whose jobs are being sacrificed as photo-op props. No Bipartisan hugging and kissing. No gaffeably lovable Joe Biden open-micing: "This is so effing awesome!"

But it was so Bipartisan!  Congress broke the gridlock and passed something for a change! Well, that's the trouble.  It was a Republican bill, originally crafted under George W. Bush.  And the 250,000 jobs it is forecast to create by Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce boosters will not be American jobs. That's why it was delayed. The Democrats insisted on adding a little token assistance to middle-aged American textile workers who are expected to lose their jobs to 40-cent/hour North Korean wage slaves allowed to work in the DMZ.  Even so, 75% of all the Congressional Democrats balked at Barack and voted against the package. There's that little matter of trade unionists being murdered in Colombia by hired corporate thugs.  But the White House made sure to announce that Barack called Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos  after the signing and made him promise to call off the goons. He'll be on the honor system, apparently.

The FTA passage simply doesn't fit in with the president's new campaign rallying cry: "We Can't Wait!" which puts the entire blame for the unemployment crisis on the obstructionist Republicans. The FTA has been strangely absent from Obama's list of talking points in such blighted areas as North Carolina and Nevada. After all, while he railed against NAFTA during his first campaign, he has just succeeded in at least doubling the damage which "free trade" has already done with a few more strokes of some cheap souvenir pens.

About the only people cheering and grabbing for their grubby pens were the millionaire CEOs of the Business Roundtable (BRT) super-lobby, who stand to profit handsomely from the latest round of foreign profiteering and outsourcing. After some initial kvetching about not getting their mugs on TV Friday, they posted on their website the obligatory thank-you note to their White House and Congressional minions:
“Business Roundtable commends the President and Congress for bowing to our relentless pressure and campaign contributions working together to approve these pro-growth (for us), job- killing creating trade agreements and bipartisan TAA legislation,” said Jim McNerney, Chairman of Business Roundtable and Chairman, President and CEO of Cheating Defense Contractor The Boeing Company.  “It’s now time to build on this milestone and focus on the future.  With 95 percent of the world’s consumers living outside the United States,(and the number of consumers with money or jobs rapidly dwindling here at home) our manufacturers, service providers and farmers stand to benefit from a fair and accountable international trading system.  Pursuing additional international trade and investment initiatives will open new markets for businesses of all sizes, and fuel U.S. economic growth and job creation.  If we do not seize the opportunity to lead, others will, and the accompanying economic benefits will accrue to their nations rather than ours.”  (We want more after this. We will not rest until we own the entire universe).  
The fact that the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) found that Boeing broke the law this year in building its Dreamliner plant in anti-union, "right to work" South Carolina, did not bar McNerney from being invited to the ceremony as guest of honor by the President. Far from it: not only is McNerney chairman of Barry's Export Council, he also sits on the hilariously named Council on Jobs & Competiveness. (CoJoCo -- or how about CutJob/CuJo? These greedheads are one slavering pack of rabid attack dogs!) 

Big Bipartisan Bill-Signing Witnessed by Ten Whole People (All Richer than You)

Also on hand for the exclusive signing ceremony was Xerox CEO Ursula Burns, Export Council vice-chair and (you guessed it) another member of CuJo.  Burns cut 4,500 American jobs during the first six months of this year alone. But Xerox net income is up 28% from a year ago. Her annual salary is listed at $4.08 million by Forbes.

McNerney and Burns and their CuJo cohort are also big proponents of repatriating corporate profits in exchange for an empty promise of job creation (the mythical "creationism") and dismantling the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (which prevents publicly traded companies from defrauding investors). Obama is dutifully mulling over both those proposals as he pitches his latest gimmick of refinancing the mortgages of a few select homeowners who are actually still paying their mortgages on time. The banks, like Colombia, will be on the honor system to do the right thing by their customers.

Back to that ever-increasing executive compensation combined with ever-decreasing tax payments to Uncle Sam. According to the Institute for Policy Studies, the World Trade Organization has actually taken the drastic step of reprimanding Obama about the U.S. government's over-the-top coddling of the CuJo's.
Corporate tax dodging has gone so out of control that 25 major U.S. corporations last year paid their chief executives more than they paid Uncle Sam in federal income taxes. Corporate outlays for CEO compensation - despite the lingering Great Recession - are rising. Employment levels have barely rebounded from their recessionary lows. Top executive pay levels, by contrast, have rebounded nearly all the way back from their pre-recession levels.
For example: McNerney, with an annual salary topping $13 million, earns more than his entire company pays in U.S. taxes every year.

So with friends like multinational CEOs voraciously whispering in the president's ear, who needs Republican enemies?  "We Can't Wait" has suddenly replaced "Win the Future" as the new Obama slogan. Lots of W's, which is apt, seeing that this is Dubya's third term.  Personally, the only "W" I like is the one in OWS. At long last, there are tens of thousands of people protesting and saying "WTF!!!!" about being eaten alive by the Corporate States of America. 

When Corporate Greed Attacks!


Valerie said...

Well, I certainly hope more and more Americans will rouse themselves out of their consumerism to recognise the lie that is “Free” Trade. There have been enough stories about the horrible conditions most third world factory workers endure to question the bill of goods sold to us before NAFTA that Free Trade is lifting up the poor in those countries. If compassion for the vulnerable and exploited isn’t enough to move the hearts of all those Christians out there, it is hard to deny the decimation of our manufacturing base and the decline of the Middle Class in America. Any person with “a lick of sense” can see the only winners in Free Trade are the giant corporations and the CEOs who enrich themselves by outsourcing as many American jobs as they can get away with doing. And let us not forget the atrocious environmental degradation that is taking place in these countries which has already come back to bite us with global warming and our dying oceans. Now that we weigh in the REAL costs of all those cheap goods people have been buying at Walmart and IKEA, they aren’t looking like such a bargain anymore.

As for our Colluder and Chief, it is clear which side Obama is on. He knows he can't get a jobs bill past the Republicans so the plan of the Obama Camp, wink-wink, is to act like he actually cares about jobs and unemployment while doing nothing to challenge the status quo of the plutocracy. Yellow dogs might let him off the hook for the jobs bill – poor guy, just can’t catch a break with all those crazy Tea Party types. However, Obama is going to have a harder time hiding this one. He didn’t have to advocate for another four "free" trade agreements that guarantee more jobs will be outsourced to yet more third world countries and he didn’t have to sign them into law. I really hope he gets outed on this one and we are finished with Obama once and for all. He is so blatant in his adoration and desire to do the bidding of his corporate masters at the expense of the 99%. His press releases implying he has had a “Come to Jesus moment” and will now support his constituency, isn't very convincing. What a loser! No amount of crazy Republican candidates thrown into the ring are enough to make Obama look good in comparison.

But for a bit of good news – check out the police in Albany New York who refused to obey Cuomo and arrest the protesters! I detect a little crack in the armour of those protecting the plutocracy

James F Traynor said...

Bravo, Karen, keep hammering at the clown.

Kat said...

It is inspiring to see what a ragtag but plucky band of corporations can accomplish when they work together. Finally! They have the president's ear!

Anonymous said...

Here's a great movie: "Last Train Home". It is about a Chinese family. The parents work in factories and leave their children in the care of a grandparent....thousands of miles away. Each Chinese New Year they travel back to their home to visit their children. See it and you will understand why people are jumping off the roofs of their factories. And you probably won't ever again complain about the indignities inflicted by the TSA.


Fred Drumlevitch said...

Great column, Karen. You've been in fine form lately. By the way, your juxtapositions, whether inline or via paragraph alternation, of what was said versus what would have been said if the speakers were obliged to be honest, are always great. (Is there a particular name for that writing technique?)

On Oct 21, Charlie Rose interviewed Steve Case, who is on Obama's so-called "Council on Jobs and Competitiveness". See:


As usual, Case is into his self-serving generalizations about entrepreneurship, and plenty of buzzword phrases. Also, beginning about 14 minutes from the start of the program, Rose brings up a couple points made by Robert Reich that large companies (well-represented on the "jobs" council) aren't interested in innovative ways of increasing employment or raising wages, and in fact many (including Xerox, Boeing, and American Express) have cut jobs this year. For a moment, Case looks slightly uneasy, but soon recovers.

@Valerie: good summary of the situation.

@Kat: "[These corporations] have the president's ear!". Actually, I think that they have him by a more private body part --- but he himself took down his pants!

@(all): I did see the "Last Train Home" film that Ned recommended. I second the recommendation.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks. No particular name for my writing technique... just something I do when I get mad.

Kat said...

@ Fred

Fred Drumlevitch said...

I saw on tonight's PBS NewsHour the latest of Paul Solman's series of interviews on economic matters. In this one, he interviewed Richard Epstein. (From Wikipedia --- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Allen_Epstein --- Epstein is "an Adjunct Scholar at the Cato Institute ... Senior Fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution ... and Professor of Law Emeritus and a Senior Lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School". He's currently at NYU.).

Based on Epstein's biography, his positions should not be surprising, but I truly could not believe what he was saying in this interview --- basically a full-throated support of gross inequality, and more claims of the mythical trickle-down. If ever there was something to get one angry, this was it. (@KAREN: this interview would be a great topic for you to dissect via your juxtaposition technique).

I advise everyone to watch the NewsHour interview, and/or read the transcript, both at:


There is also this:


which gives one sample of Epstein's position, and news about a public interactive Twitter chat with Solman this Friday.