Sunday, July 15, 2012


Attacking Mitt Romney is like shooting caviar in a barrel. The Obama campaign TV ads chewing him up and spitting him out are a hoot to watch and satisfy our great national craving for plutocratic blood. But let's face it. Picking apart one little rotten fish larva out of the whole slimy pile is not enough, when there are schools and schools of sharks circling in churned-up waters, waiting their voracious turn in the continuing feeding frenzy on what's left of our democracy.

Just because President Obama is going full-bore Captain Ahab on Mitt the Minnow does not mean he intends to harpoon the Moby Dicks of free market global capitalism. To the contrary, he is their keeper and protector. Look no further than his Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, described as "NAFTA on steroids". Actually, you can't look further because the negotiations are being conducted in so much murky secrecy that even United States senators are not allowed access to the details.

Corporate Feeding Frenzy -- Exposed!

But thanks to the Public Citizen consumer advocacy group shining a light into the murky depths, we are learning anew that although President Obama is attacking the offshoring and outsourcing of the man who wants his job, he is not attacking offshoring and outsourcing in general. In fact, he is a champion of sending our jobs overseas. We already got a hint of that when he signed the South Korean trade deal last year. That measure is estimated to cost 159,000 American manufacturing jobs. And the Panama part of the deal actually makes it easier for tax evaders like Romney to hide their millions offshore. And the Colombia part of the package allows us to ignore the worst record of labor and human rights violations on the entire planet. In effect, Obama has helped destroy more American jobs than Romney ever imagined in his most vivid vulture capitalist dreams. As a matter of fact, Obama got so much criticism from his base over his capitulation to transational corporations that he signed the final bill in secret. Only a few applauding oligarchs attended the Oval Office ceremony, as this noir-ish AP photo of the event attests:

Barry and the Barracudas
Ironically, the Obama camp's Mitt attacks are having the unintended consequence of attracting a lot more needed attention to the latest ongoing trade negotiations. There were demonstrations at last week's round of private talks in San Diego, along with petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures and letters of protest from legislators and activist groups in all 50 states. According to Public Citizen's Lori Wallach,

U.S. negotiators have tried to keep TPP negotiations totally below the radar, but even so opposition to the current "NAFTA-on-steroids-with-Asia" approach is escalating, which is good news for the public but a serious complication for the Obama campaign’s attack on Romney as a U.S. job offshorer.... President Obama is facing a growing chorus of opposition to what his trade negotiators are up to on the TPP from his base and from other Democratic elected officials, and given that his campaign seems to be honing in on job offshoring as a winning theme, he needs to redirect his negotiators from their current TPP agenda of NAFTA-on-steroids with all of Asia.
The TPP is a lot more than the usual government give-away to the oligarchs. If passed, it will free the global banking Mafia from even the limited oversight they currently enjoy, severely limit access to medicines by the countries that need them the most, make it easier for unsafe products and chemicals to flood into the United States, and absolve multinationals from adhering to domestic environmental and health policies. Even the legal system will be subverted by star chambers run by corporate judges. According to Public Citizen, it's nothing but a global corporate coup, a power tool for the One Percent. (h/t Kat.)

You obviously won't be seeing any Rombama attack ads about TPP on your TV, from either side. That's because Mitt Romney wants this deal as much as Barack Obama does. It's one more indication of it not really mattering, in the long term, which one of these apparatchiks of the Duopoly wins the election. For another great overview of what TPP means for regular people, do read this Truthout piece by Brian Moench, titled "America the Beautiful: A Fire Sale for Corporations." If this doesn't send a chill right down your spine, nothing will. An excerpt:

TPP is much worse than NAFTA, which eviscerated middle-class jobs and wealth in the US. And this sellout to foreign corporations is not just a rogue brain cramp of President Obama. Mitt Romney demanded this agreement be signed months ago, and the notorious "climate change denying" US Chamber of Commerce can't get it signed fast enough. Romney has called Obama's the most hostile administration to business in recent history. If the TPP trade agreement is "hostile" to business, god help us if we have an administration, presumably Romney's, "friendly" to business.
If you thought that with Citizens United we had hit rock bottom in surrendering our democracy to the power of money, this TPP "trade agreement" would throw our democracy into free fall. Foreign corporations will be allowed to feast like termites upon America's natural resources, trash our environment and public health, violate our rights as American citizens and make us pay them if we try to protect ourselves.

With enough public outcry, maybe we can buy some time. Although TPP had been scheduled to go into effect this year, it looks like it might be delayed until 2013 because of... you guessed it... the feeding frenzy of the presidential campaign. Plus, the Japanese are not yet part of the talks, and the plutocrats want them to get on board the corporate gravy train too. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, ever the mega-lobby of unfettered capitalism, is keeping its fingers crossed. The elites are couching their crime against humanity in spin designed to foment fear of Chinese competition, making it easier for the gullible hoi polloi to swallow their poisoned bait -- hook, line and sinker.


Denis Neville said...

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power.” - Abraham Lincoln

What can we expect from those possessing power over us? Do they naturally tend towards justice or injustice?

With all that education with those degrees, what did Obama and Romney learn? We gave power to Obama in 2008, hoping he would do what is right. What if voters give power to Romney in 2012? What then?

Unfortunately, morality is not in either’s universe. They have executed decisions without regard to their moral impact, invisible of moral responsibility, while presenting themselves as being on the moral high ground.

“The measure of a man is what he does with power.” - Plato

Through the story of the Ring of Gyges, which gave its possessor the power to become invisible at will, Plato considers whether a person would choose to be moral if he did not have to fear being caught and punished. Plato’s allegory tells us that anyone who gains power without accountability will likely use it unjustly.

Under Obama, the American surveillance state has turned increasingly against the American people. We live in a culture of surveillance. They’ve built a wall of secrecy that prevents us from knowing anything about what they’re doing. And it’s not only the government, but just as menacingly, private corporations as well. The elites, both corporate and government are terrified about any civil unrest, and when people in power fear unrest, they consolidate power in order to constrain it and suppress it. This is what it is designed to do and it is justified in the name of terrorism. We are being conditioned to live in a culture where the expectation is that we are always being watched. They want us to be chilled, never questioning or challenging authority. It breeds conformism by design. That’s its purpose. And that is what makes what is going on today so pernicious.

Secrecy is a form of invisibility, and for the purposes of power, as effective as Plato’s magic ring.

James F Traynor said...

To get down to what's before us, November: I'm in a goddamn quandary. My conscience says Green Party and Jill Stein, realpolitik says Obama. But I know the Republicans are hoping I, and people like me, will go Green Party or write-in. Florida is a tossup state.

Pearl said...

James: Please read the next to last paragraph in Denis's column above yours starting, 'Under Obama the American surveillance state,' etc. If you vote to keep Obama in office we will, as now, continue to be gagged from speaking out for another 4 years mistakenly believing we will make his job harder by criticism which he will never follow anyhow and which will be used as a club against his administration by the right wingers.

Yes, Romney will try and follow the same path, but then we can begin to raise real Hell if he gets in. Whatever he does, even confused citizens will begin to question and watch closely when he will be weakened by having to organize his administration, pick his advisers, etc. Obama has had so much of this going on that people have stopped listening. A new face on the horizon no matter how ugly will throw things off balance no matter how careful Romney may be and we can count on his stupidity to come to the fore and be noticed. Obama is quick on his feet but Romney is not so adept at hiding the truth and believe me, the media will be all over him.

Besides, I don't know how any true liberal/progressive can live with the results of voting for Obama. I honestly believe he is more dangerous than Romney and is solidly entrenched with the uglier powers that are running things into the ground. We need time to be free to change the complexion of the Democratic Party and many officials who have lost office and others who have kept quiet are waiting in the wings for support from people like us. Forget a third party in America - it only leads to taking votes away where we need them.

Remember, the next 4 years are going to be a nightmare financially and in every other aspect of how the country is performing and whomever is in office will get the brunt of the anger of the citizens. Our "elitists: will being to chafe under a Republican administration when they start counting the lowering worth of their investments and incomes which will accelerate and THEY may begin to become the occupiers of Wall Street themselves. An interesting possibility.

Pay attention to Karen's title for her latest masterpiece - JAWS!!!!!!!!!

Denis Neville said...

“Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” - John F. Kennedy

Matt Stoller, on the compelling message about democracy that is coming from miners in Spain, where politicians and bankers are threatening their families with endemic poverty and powerlessness:

Chris Hedges also recalls the lesson of the West Virginia miners and the Battle of Blair Mountain:

“If violence continues to be the preferred mechanism for control, if the state refuses to institute rational economic and political reforms to address the growing misery that corporations inflict on the citizens, it will, as at Blair Mountain, engender a violent response.”

Secrecy is a form of invisibility, and for the purposes of power, as effective as Plato’s magic ring. Government and corporate elites don’t want us to know about Blair Mountain. It has for the most part been whitewashed out of our history books.

“…From those who live like leeches on the people's lives,
We must take back our land again,
O, yes, I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath--
America will be!
Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain--
All, all the stretch of these great green states--
And make America again!”
- Langston Hughes, “Let America Be America Again”

Zee said...


Thank you for the interesting comparison between Barry the Outsourcer and Mittens the Outsourcer, along with the supporting links. This simplifies my dilemma in November.


Once again, thank you helping me with my ongoing education. I had never heard of "The Battle of Blair Mountain," something that has clearly been sorely lacking (suppressed?) in my lily-white, middle-class education.

"The Battle of Blair Mountain was one of the largest civil uprisings in United States history and the largest armed rebellion since the American Civil War. For five days in late August and early September 1921, in Logan County, West Virginia, some 10,000 armed coal miners confronted 3,000 lawmen and strikebreakers, called the Logan Defenders, who were backed by coal mine operators during an attempt by the miners to unionize the southwestern West Virginia coalfields. The battle ended after approximately one million rounds were fired, and the United States Army intervened by presidential order."

I'll be out of touch for about a month, but will do my best to catch up with Sardonicky upon my return in mid-August.

Best wishes to all.

Kat said...

David Brooks today-- the usual pack of lies, culminating with the whopper that Romney is an "efficiency expert" (as in making companies more efficient, not as in "efficiently extracting money") contained this kernel of truth:
Over the years of his presidency, Obama has not been a critic of globalization. There’s no real evidence that, when he’s off the campaign trail, he has any problem with outsourcing and offshoring.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Jaws? Barracudas? I have a better animal metaphor. But more on that later.

There was a story in the Times today about Olympic athletes on the way to the London training camp getting driven around for four hours (the ride should have taken 45 minutes) by a bus driver who lost his way. Oh well, dead ends happen. I think we have a bus driver in the White House who promised something akin to 45 minutes but got us all very, very lost up a dead end too narrow to turn around in. We’ll have to back out all the way, somehow, with or without a relief driver.

Then down in the op-ed section of today’s Times there was David Brooks, brooding on the unfairness of it all against capitalism in general and Mitt in particular. To the clear eyes on the Supreme Court, corporations equal people with all the perks people are entitled to; for David Brooks, certain ‘values’ and ‘isms’ are to be valued more than people, whatever attention millions of little people might still be entitled to.

I haven’t opened one of Brooks’ essays in months, but the tease this time, about Romney’s “capitalist vision” (as distinct from Obama’s, already!) overwhelmed this cat’s taste the absurd, so I clicked in to read more. Ha-ha-ha. Then down to the comments to see how Karen would flay one more time whatever is left of Little David. But Karen is either tired of whacking The David Piñata or she was ordered to a neutral corner by a comment referee granting Brooks another long count. So, by way of consolation, you’ll have to jump down to Gemli’s comment for the chaser this time.

Back to Olympics metaphors. Mitt and Barry – not to mention their defenders in the media -- remind me of two dung beetles racing backwards to some finish line with their little balls of elephant dung philosophy. It’s worth seeing the real thing as a marvel of nature for a little while on Animal Planet when the beetles themselves do it. It’s not as pretty when bipeds attempt it in campaign mode. May the better dung beetle avatar win.

Have I explained to you yet why I’m voting third party?

Denis Neville said...

Kat said... “David Brooks today-- the usual pack of lies”

Or, as Tom Tomorrow tweets: “David Brooks takes another fact finding mission up his own ass.”

So as to offer those of us on the grate more tin pot sociology:

“He's an efficiency expert. It has been the business of his life to take companies that were mediocre and sclerotic and try to make them efficient and dynamic. It has been his job to be the corporate version of a personal trainer: take people who are puffy and self-indulgent and whip them into shape.”

Here in Kansas City, 750 “puffy and self-indulgent” GST Steel workers lost their jobs and promised severance pay, health insurance, life insurance, and pension benefits. One of them said, “Every promise they made was broken. Every promise. Except the fact that they did make a lot of money off of it. They kept that one.”

Karen Garcia said...

I skipped commenting on Brooks last night, and they closed him down early this a.m. I am trying to restrain myself from too much Times commenting anyway. A lot of people are rightly ticked off that the same "trusted" commenters keep hogging the top of the threads lately, so I am striving not to be an oinker. Plus, most of the trusted regulars are now reduced to repeating Obama campaign talking points, getting sucked into taking sides as if there were no other event in the stratosphere as important as Who's Winning. I like bashing Romney fine, but not to the exclusion of other important trivia. Besides, I think Brooks is just the punching bag magnet the Times uses to attract a thousand outraged comments. Gets exhausting very fast!

Jay - Ottawa said...

"I think Brooks is just the punching bag magnet the Times uses to attract a thousand outraged comments."

I suppose so. Better our venom should be fanged into Brooks hand than those of the elected officials who are really antagonizing us. Kill the right wing's messenger, forget the real perps. It's a subtle move in the TLOTE game of taking the heat off BO and the empty liberal line.

On the other hand, considering all the laughing -- or howling -- that reasonable people do while reading Brooks' columns, do you ever wonder whether Brooks, with his bland oxymorons and astute forgetfulness, is a stealth satirist of the first order, making it all up just for laughs?

Read the transcript of a Colbert skit and an op-ed by Brooks. What's the difference?