Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Let's Light a Firecracker Under Neoliberalism's Butt

Nothing like using the Fourth of July weekend to deflect our attention from the latest round of secret negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership, eh?

The culprits of the corporate coup will be converging in the Canadian capitol tomorrow. And you, dear readers, are cordially invited to write them a friendly note, hopefully disengaging them from both their comfort zone and their buffer zone. The public policy group Open Media International is collecting signatures and remarks for the delectation of the plutocrats. So may the pitchforks start jabbing inside their heads as they mull, among other abominations, restricting our Internet access and controlling our Internet speech.

Attending on behalf of the American corporate persons (who now have freedom of religion as well as freedom of speech) will be Trade Czar Michael Froman, late of Citigroup, along with Obama's new ambassador to Canada: Bruce Heyman, late of Goldman Sachs. They will be among the unnamed hordes happily giving up their glorious Fourth in hopes of scoring more profits for their firms. And since most of those firms are transnationals, the free traders of late capitalism usually are not hampered by such niceties as patriotism to one's native land.

Interestingly enough, the Canadian power elites seem royally pissed that Obama has foisted Heyman, crass money-bundler from Chicago that he is, upon them. (They were pissed off at Obama to begin with, given his delay in approving the Keystone XL Pipeline.) According to a Financial Post editorial, Heyman has recently been trying to pull a "fast one" on the Canadians by insisting that the TPP can still be rammed through even if Obama fails to get fast-track authority from Congress. A posh dinner meeting with a former Canadian diplomat (Frank McKenna) was tense.... and hilarious:
Things didn’t go too well either when Mr. McKenna tried to get a U.S. commitment to fund the customs plaza that Canada needs to support a new bridge it is building at the Detroit-Windsor crossing, where the U.S. trade with Canada is greater than with all of Japan. “We support nice infrastructure between our two countries,” Mr. Heyman said. “This is a financing issue and I think it’s best that we wait and have those discussions privately.”

When Mr. McKenna moved to raise “another issue that has turned out to be bothersome,” Mr. Heyman cut in: “Do you have any good issues here you want to talk about? I try to take this at a high level and make this a lot of fun. I’m sorry you’re all bummed out here. We have this incredible relationship. C’mon.”
Mr. McKenna kept his cool: “When you’re the small partner in a relationship the irritants do become quite significant,” he calmly explained.
Mr. Heyman remained clueless. “Frank,” he asked, “did you ever buy a new car? You get a new car? And you have that new car, it smells great and it looks beautiful and everything else. And you bring that new car home and you realize there’s a scratch on the bumper that you didn’t notice when you bought it. And you go inside and start thinking about the scratch all day long. Ever do that?”

Mr. McKenna deadpanned: “No.” But the American went right on with his analogy that effectively belittled Canada’s concerns as trivial next to its good fortune in being a U.S. neighbour.
Oh, Canada! The style of journalism as practiced by our neighbor to the north is quite refreshing, especially when one plutocrat bitch-slaps another. You just don't see such snappy coverage of elite brouhahas in the New York Times' Wall Street P.R. apparatus known as DealBook, for instance. 

Meanwhile, the Council of Canadians is wondering why the negotiators are being so damned secretive. It seems the Canadian government forgot to even tell its own citizens about the meeting!  So, what else is new? Join the club. And sign the Open Media petition -- it's ecumenical.


James F Traynor said...

Oh god (I've decided that a small cap is sufficient), that discussion was really funny. The small cap getting his comeuppance by the large CAP. It's the Sopranos writ large.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

Karen, You are such a star! Almost no one is covering the TPP anymore and the plutocrats are counting on slipping it through under the radar! Thanks for being one of the few journalists to cover the story!

All I can say is wake up America and the rest of the world! Your democracies are about to take a terrible turn for the worse! You think your pharmaceuticals are expensive now? Wait until the TPP passes. You think environmental regulation is at its lowest point? Wait until the TPP passes. You think there is a drain as good jobs are outsourced to countries where the corporations can exploit cheap labor and pollute at will? Wait until the TPP passes.

This is a massive deal and Obama is leading the charge. It is a trade agreement that has little to do with trade and everything to do with big corporations smashing anything that gets in the way of their profits, be that pollution standards, labor standards, food safety standards or health standards.

Do you like knowing where your food is grown? Kiss that one good bye! Labeling food as locally grown or Australian (American) grown discriminates against the big corporations that want to import food from China and the like. Think what that will do to first world farmers whose only big advantage when competing with other countries is that their food is safe and their farm workers get a living wage. All you will know when you go to the supermarket is one asparagus is cheaper than the other. How long will the more expensive asparagus (local) be sold in that store?

The TPP is going to extend patents on medicines so generic patents will be harder to get. Check out the video from Doctors Without Borders for an explanation of how the TPP patent laws would work. This is going to affect all of us as BIG Pharma monopolizes the market and sets any price they want. They want the TPP because countries like Canada and Australia have the NERVE to sell pharmaceuticals at reduced prices.

Do you ever download a video? The TPP is really big on this one. They have all kinds of ways to track you down and sue or fine the heck out of you.

I will write more tomorrow. Right now I have guests coming for dinner and I have to cook a meal!

Pay attention, people! This is NOT a trivial matter.

Valerie Long Tweedie said...

OK, I am back for a short time before I have to put my daughter to bed.

If you watch the Bill Moyers interview with Yves Smith and Dean Baker, Yves explains that the nations signing on to the agreement actually make their laws subordinate to the TPP. So a multinational that doesn't like a law or regulation that is in place to protect that country's population, such as a pollution law or a labor law or a regulation that controls what can be sprayed on their food, can be challenged in a special kangaroo court by a a corporation if those laws protecting the people of that country stand in the way of corporate profit.

If you are a small to medium sized business, the ones who do the lion's share of hiring in the U.S. and Australia, the TPP is a threat because giant multinationals don't want innovative and small businesses cutting in on their profits. According to CSRwire the small businesses which are socially responsible are going to take the biggest hit. So isn't that great? Save the multinationals and kill off the smaller sustainable businesses which actually contribute to the economy.

Financial services will also take a turn for the worse. Any regulation like Dodd Frank (weak as it is) will be thrown under the bus as any regulation will slow down the banks' ability to speculate/gamble/invest.

The biggest issue for me and should be for all of us is how we know so little about this agreement because it is all being done in secret, unless you are a multinational corporation. If this trade deal is so great for America and the countries involved, why is it being negotiated in secret? They want us to sign on without any public debate. Is this democratic?

They TPP is so good at controlling the message that what little is being said about it, is pushing it like just another trade deal. It's not!

Fred Drumlevitch said...

"The style of journalism as practiced by our neighbor to the north is quite refreshing, especially when one plutocrat bitch-slaps another."
-- Karen Garcia

Of course, it really doesn't have to involve two true, full-fledged plutocrats, I'd be happy to see an apparatchik, or a faux-populist, etc. getting his or her comeuppance --- and from anyone. And I don't want to just read about that in my morning paper, I want to see it occur, there really is something to be said for watching it real-time on a screen. Think Army-McCarthy hearings, Watergate, Iran-Contra, for all of which I think the historical consensus is that they were better televised than just written about.

Those telescreens are getting bigger:

While it looks like the current customers for these supersized screens are primarily sports fans, eventually watching large is bound to trickle down to many other things.

I wonder what the long-term psycho/socio/political impact of watching current events in the large will be. Will watching a "large" politician get taken down a notch (or even removed) be empowering for the people, or will these rare occurrences be more than negated by the overbearing prominence, 1984-style, of these rulers most of the time? Will the civilian populace watching in the large the destructiveness and brutality of war finally say enough is enough? Will a large-screen immersion into poverty in any way reduce public indifference, and prompt increased demands for social justice? Or will it all just be desensitizing?

James F Traynor said...

Yes, Tweedie, absolutely right. The amount of damage done by the Clinton administration, for instance, with the repeal of Glass-Steagal and the institution of NAFTA are perfect examples of what can be done to us while keeping our eyes on the wrong ball. Whenever these plutocrats and their stooges get together secretly it is never to our benefit.

annenigma said...

@James F Traynor

Let's not forget Clinton's signing of the Defense of Marriage Act AND the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 which just gave a big hand to Hobby Lobby's winning their case at the Supreme Court.

With Democrats like the Clintons and Obama, who needs Republicans?

Isaiah Earhart said...

It is much easier for me to comment on an article in which I have a disagreement, hence the difficulty I am having commenting on this wonderful piece.

The following is the comment I sent to the "decision-makers" of the TPP via Open Media via the link I used from Karen's great article:

Hello Designers of the TPP,

I am currently taking a break from my vital job as the Kicker of Puppies to write you about the TPP.

By now, you have probably received hundreds or thousands of letters against the trade agreement that is the TPP. Please do not listen to the people. These people who deride the TPP are seriously flawed persons. Many of them want a free and open internet, where there is no censorship and no ability for internet service providers to remove content or block certain websites altogether. How can we possibly control what people learn if there is no mechanism for corporate control of internet content? How much more difficult will it be to stamp out social movements if we allow people to throw their ideas out to the masses in order to be perused by whomever happens to have access to the free and open internet? The mere idea of not controlling these ‘democratic shenanigans’ is criminal, and I thank the TPP decision-makers for addressing these serious problems of the open internet.

Others who have disdain for the TPP are probably people who desire the ability to protect their local environment from the ‘enhancements’ that friendly multinational corporations bring to local water and air supplies. Sure, there is an occasional environmental catastrophe, but it is significantly more important that the richest people in the world don’t get inconvenienced by the possibility of being sued by local communities they devastate. And besides, these people never know what land is for anyway, and if they don’t like living in swamps filled with oil or pesticides sprayed over their children’s schools, they can just leave.

I am sure that you all have received letters damning the TPP for its super enhancement and protection of Big Pharmaceutical drug patents. They probably tell you that the TPP will force poor people to buy more expensive life-saving medication or that these super-patents will reduce the availability of drugs in poor countries altogether; screw these people. People who get on their soap box and bemoan the treatment of the poor by multi-billion dollar corporations don’t understand the whole purpose of poor people, obviously.

Stay strong, people shoving the TPP up everyone’s ass, stay strong. It is only through your great and secretive leadership that the problems of democracy can be overcome: stay strong!


Denis Neville said...

The Canadians are mushrooms just like us. It's ecumenical! The TPP is classic mushroom management. They are keeping us in the dark; then they will feed us tons of bullshit; then they will cultivate us; and finally they will can us.

@ annenigma - Yes, with Democrats (Obama's Democratic Party is preparing to become Hillary Clinton's Democratic Party) like the Clintons and Obama, who needs Republicans? They are a virus with shoes. Their neoliberal propaganda engenders a protective stupidity almost impossible for facts to penetrate. The Clintonistas are just like the Obamabots, so damn gullible that they'll believe anything. Ultimate mushrooms! Thinking we are the morons gives them something to feel smug about. Why should we disillusion them?

@ Isaiah Earhart – the amazing power of sarcasm

How much easier it will be preparing for mass civil breakdown and stamping out social movements as science is militarized to measure emotional contagion and develop tools to target peaceful activists and protest movements. Researchers the Department of Defense is funding (our taxes dollars funding the destruction of our civil liberties and paying the salaries of our oppressors) to understand how ideas and news goes viral are doing similar work for Facebook. The NSA needs us on Facebook.

And like classic Nudge Theory, the media is reporting that increasing numbers of employers and some psychologists believe that people who aren't on social networking sites like Facebook are 'suspicious.' They already consider those with Facebook accounts, who lack friends to be suspicious, but now they are suggesting that anyone who abstains from Facebook altogether may be even more suspicious. If a person doesn’t have a Facebook page, it is a red flag. It may be the first sign that someone is a potential mass murderer! Job seekers who don’t have Facebook accounts send up all sorts of red flags. What are they hiding?

The NSA needs us on Facebook.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph!!!

annenigma said...


Well that certainly helps explain the pressure from NYT to join Facebook under the guise of becoming a Verified commentator. Many of us suspected there was more to it than meets the eye and sure enough, there is, and it's sick and sinister.

It was also just discovered during German hearings on the NSA that the NSA is targeting those who use encryption and anonymizer programs such as Tor. Apparently privacy advocates are now considered terrorists too. Is there ANYONE this fascist regime doesn't consider a threat to National (global corporate) Security?

I'm so relieved that my parents are no longer alive to see what has happened to this country in the years since they've been gone, considering how much they loved this country and how much they sacrificed for it. It would break my mother's heart, but I know my father would be putting his uniform back on in a heartbeat.

How disgusting that the fascist Military-Industrial-Congressional complex would drop the hammer (and sickle) on our Democracy after most of the WWII vets are gone or incapacitated.

We should honor them - and I don't mean with more stone memorials.

Jay - Ottawa said...

Dear Generation of Malcontents,

In the past –– I mean over recent centuries –– many like you were anxious about a takeover of budding sovereign republics by Freemasons, the Illuminati, the League of Nations, the United Nations, the Trilateral Commission or the New World Order. You claimed world-takeover conspiracies were being hatched in secret. Well, you were so right. By our secrecy you shall know us. Our meetings must be secret so as better to spring surprises. So, Surprise, Surprise! We’ve finally found a formula to accomplish what our persistent but failed predecessors almost made happen time and again.

The money and the means to take over the world now lies within the grasp of our giant corporations. Our agents have infiltrated your news media from top to bottom, as well as your legislatures and your courts. We have even placed our agents in the chairs of presidents, prime ministers, generals and police chiefs. So it’s check mate, citizens. It’s over. Give it up. Go to your homes, rabble, and be still. Otherwise, you will obly make yourselves more unhappy, suffering the frustrations described by one of the writers in our pay, H. G. Wells:

<< Countless people ... will hate the new world order, be rendered unhappy by the frustration of their passions and ambitions through its advent and will die protesting against it. When we attempt to evaluate its promise, we have to bear in mind the distress of a generation or so of malcontents, many of them quite gallant and graceful-looking people. >>

TPP lives. Get used to it. BTW, Wells was just stroking you folks with that “gallant and graceful” papotage. You’re nothing more than shit-caked sheep.

Yours truly,

CEOs, Inc.

annenigma said...

My Fourth of July Fireworks Screed

(NSA Analyist, please forward to the President TODAY!)

If, on this July 4th, it became glaringly obvious to the Powers-That-Be in Washington that the people fully intend to restore our Democracy 'by whatever means necessary', with 'nothing off the table' (to use Empire's terms), would the PTB seriously implement programs to serve the needs of the people over big corporations in order to avert that disaster?

Cracking down on widespread public dissent could actually lead to a disruption of their beloved Economy (as measured by the Dow) which is riding exceptionally high. Admittedly, cracking down is the default modus operandi of all PTBs, but it won't necessary work with Americans. Why? We little people grew up with the promise of democracy planted in our heads, hearts, and souls virtually from birth. How did that come about? We public school educated citizens were actually INDOCTRINATED to believe in democracy and freedom because government needed us to be willing to fight and die in wars in the name of ... freedom and democracy!

It might take a lot of mental effort for the privileged, private prep and ivy league schooled (especially Obama, privately schooled off the mainland and in Indonesia) to realize that essential difference between them and us. But the fact is that THEY weren't indoctrinated to be willing to give their lives for their country - and they certainly don't.

It's important to note that control of civil unrest is a big component of the Corporatocracy's 'national security' interests and the reason they have directed so much attention domestically (and may be behind the request for Billions for permanent detention centers instead of temporary MASH style tents). Publicly displayed dissent by the masses is what they fear most and what would really light a firecracker up their butts. It's like the alcoholic who's a pillar of the community - once others stop covering up, the game is over. The regime will no longer get the cooperation for global corporate exploits under the fake banner of spreading democracy and protecting free markets. Rigging markets is all they care about.

Just think of the bad PR when it gets around that the US Government is having to crack down on open dissent by multitudes of 'democracy advocates' ONLY because they refused to restore the democracy they stole from us. Thank God for the Internet to get the truth out. They can't take that down without hurting the economy.

But why should the PTB willingly change a single thing as long as we the people are willing to silently keep taking it up the butt year in and year out? Public displays of dissent are the key and they know it. They would grudgingly do an about-face if they had to in order to save their ilk from the dreaded financial 'uncertainty' - if that's what we successfully created. It starts with each of us just saying out loud what everyone is already thinking.

With the global corporate empire standing poised to usurp democracies throughout the world through the powers of secretly negotiated trade agreements like the TPP, I'd say we've definitely reached The Tipping Point. THEY must restore our Democracy of, by, and for the people now or WE WILL - sooner or later, come Hell or high water. How it actually goes down is up to them. We know how much we have (left) to lose, but how much are THEY willing to even put at risk for what they value most in life - money.

Bill Moyers and Bernard Weisberger have this great article for our inspiration. Hear! Hear!

'Celebrate the Revolution and Keep it Going'