Thursday, February 19, 2015

Obama to America: Fast Track or Die

What's a prevaricating prez to do when he's already got four Pinocchios under his belt for lying about the number of jobs to be created by a neoliberal coup euphemised as a free trade agreement?

He'll lie even more. He'll speak directly to the damned through an email blitz, attempting to draft them into an unpaid zombie coalition of the unwitting to spread the lies to their friends and neighbors. He'll pretend that China is the next enemy in line to creep over the borders and attack middle class zombies asleep in their beds. Sure, China is guilty of currency manipulation in order to sell its  products through Walmart more cheaply than an American manufacturer can. But the problem of currency manipulation isn't even addressed in the TPP!

Give President Obama fast track authority right now this very minute to negotiate your own inevitable misery, or die quickly. Wouldn't you rather be patriotic and let your own country trample you instead of China? Those are your only choices.

I won't even distinguish the White House's email blast as propaganda, because propaganda involves  a little verbal skill and rhetorical sleight of  hand. When it comes to his case for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, though, Obama has simply resorted to blatantly lying through his toothsome teeth. The better to eat you with, my dears.

Let's parse the email, sent out yesterday (It's essentially a rehash of his State of the Union bullshit, but repetitive self-plagiarizing bullshit never stopped him before):
 My top priority as President is making sure more hardworking Americans have a chance to get ahead. That's why we have to make sure the United States -- and not countries like China -- is the one writing this century's rules for the world's economy.
Your chance for survival (getting ahead) hinges entirely upon your willingness to work until you drop. If you don't have a job because of the financial collapse and continuing hard times, too bad. The last remaining superpower must control not only the United States economy, but the economy of the whole world.  That's also known as the plutonomy: a system of the wealthy, by the wealthy and for the wealthy. You can either be a pluto-participant, one of a billion tiny droplets comprising the geyser that gushes up to the very top, or you can sink to the bottom. Dig yourselves a hole and plummet all the way to China for all they care. "Give me authority, or give you death," is the gist of the Obama fear-mongering.

And, incidentally, China is already part of the World Trade Organization, so Obama's desperate scare tactic is just a case of closing the barn door after the fact. The Economic Policy Institute estimated that 2.7 million American jobs are already gone as a result of the U.S.-China trade deficit, with 2.1 million of those lost in the manufacturing sector. Along with these job losses, U.S. wages fell due to the competition with cheap Chinese labor. And that has cost a typical U.S. household with two wage-earners around $2,500 per year. So what is Obama even talking about?
Trade has an important role to play in supporting good-paying, middle-class jobs in the United States. Unfortunately, past trade deals haven't always lived up to the hype. That's why I've made it clear that I won't sign any agreement that doesn't put American workers first.
Doing the same things over and over and expecting you to expect different results is how the ruling class rolls. Of course, you are not allowed to see the actual terms and conditions of the TPP, nor is your congressional representative. Take Obama's word for it. Trust him. He'll make sure to put the phrase "American worker" right in the very first paragraph, Really, he will... just before the fine print that screws the workers of America as badly as it screws the workers of the whole world. A screwed American worker is better than a screwed Chinese worker any way you slice it.That is the new abnormal "Sopranos" definition of Made in America.
But we also should recognize that 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders. Exports support more than 11 million jobs -- and exporters tend to pay their workers higher wages. Failing to seize new opportunities would be devastating not just for our businesses, but for our workers too.
He's actually right that fewer and fewer ordinary Americans can afford to buy crap. The customer base is dwindling all the time. And he's right that the billionaire Koch Brothers and their fellow oligarchs, who are actively lobbying for the TPP, will indeed be emotionally devastated if they can't seize control of the global plutonomy. Corporations will rant and rave and cry and sob if they're thwarted in their crusade to pollute the planet and exploit the workers. Obama, meanwhile, wants to enlist you in common cause with the obscene rich by referring to exploited populations as "our potential customers."

Since the Obama administration was recently awarded four Pinocchios for falsely claiming that the TPP would generate 650,000 new American jobs, they have now deliberately muddled their lie by  throwing out a figure of 11 million jobs created by exports. This, of course, applies to "trade deals" in general, and doesn't actually specify where the jobs are created. Obama couldn't be more vague or misleading if he tried. But he is adhering to the propaganda rule of Joseph Goebbels: tell a big lie often enough, and it will tend to stick -- the same way exporters "tend to" pay their workers higher wages when they're allowed to plunder the universe.

Tellingly, even the experts at the Peterson Institute (funded by billionaire deficit hawk Pete Peterson) are refusing to forecast a jobs boost  from passage of the TPP. These economists-for-hire were burned once before, when they falsely predicted an American jobs boom with the passage of NAFTA. The actual number of American jobs created under TPP is more likely to be a Big Fat Zero, according to Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post fact-checker and Pinocchio awarder whose report is linked at the top of this post. Beware, he says, of politicians and their fishy math.

But Obama's fishy email burbles on:
That's why my Administration is currently negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- so we can benefit from trade that is not just free, but also fair.
Notice the sudden sly pivot to beneficiaries being "we" (his administration and the VIPs it serves), not you or me. Very, very slimy. Whatever happened to "our" customers?
We have the chance to open up more markets to goods and services backed by three proud words: Made in America. For the sake of our businesses, and American workers, it's an opportunity we need to take.
You are made Americans, so be proud. He is making you an offer you can't refuse. Get kneecapped or get disappeared in the Pine Barrens.
 But beyond greater access to the world's fastest-growing region, the agreement will establish enforceable commitments to protect labor, environmental, and other crucial standards that Americans hold dear.
It's the wonder of plunder in those vast, untapped territories like Australia that currently enjoy quaint protections by individual governments.  You see, since the TPP will replace national courts with  self-serving corporate tribunals to enforce the commitments, the standards will not only be crucial, they will be cruel. For example, Big Tobacco needs to sell its toxic product in countries where they ban sale of cigarettes to children. The TPP will change all that. Big Tobacco could foreseeably be awarded damages from Malaysia for cutting into their pediatric customer base. The American gospel of Consume and/or Die, held so dear, will be spread to countries where the drug culture is not yet protected for the benefit of Big Tobacco or Big PHarma.
Right now, China wants to write the rules for commerce in Asia. If it succeeds, our competitors would be free to ignore basic environmental and labor standards, giving them an unfair advantage over American workers.
Bullshit. As noted above, currency manipulation has nothing to do with the TPP. For purposes of corporate hegemony, China is only the latest scapegoat. The TPP does nothing at all to reduce the trade deficit. As a matter of fact, it would succeed in widening it even more. NAFTA, for example, engendered a $181 billion trade deficit with Mexico and Canada as it destroyed a million (and counting) American jobs.
 We can't let that happen. We should write the rules, and level the playing field for our middle class. The first step is for Congress to pass Trade Promotion Authority.
Without letting Congress or you even know what they're voting for. 
 After years of shipping jobs overseas, our manufacturing sector is creating jobs at a pace not seen since the 1990s. Rather than outsourcing, more companies are insourcing and bringing jobs back home. Today, more than half of manufacturing executives have said they're looking at bringing jobs back from China.
The jobs are temporary, precarious and poorly paid. The American worker is gaining parity in low wages with the rest of the world. Of course manufacturers are interested in bringing jobs home if our wages continue to stagnate or drop, if unions continue to be destroyed, if pension plans go broke. It'll boost corporate profits. Unless, of course, the TPP gets rammed through and they can ship even more jobs to Vietnam, a  negotiating partner which now pays its workers a minimum wage of 30 cents an hour.
Let's give them one more reason to get it done, by giving me the tools I need to grow our economy, boost exports for our businesses, and give more hardworking middle-class families a chance to get ahead. Thanks,
President Barack Obama
The one ray of hope we can probably take from Obama's email campaign is that he knows his TPP charm offensive to Congress might be in danger of not working. It's the bipartisanship that dare not speak its name -- an alliance between the Tea Party and the left, striking dread into the radical center. He had heretofore been loath to directly address the American people on the TPP, no doubt because he can't or won't tell us what's really in it.  So his sudden public push is probably a sign of his desperation.

And look who he's just enlisted to strong-arm the Japanese into screwing their own agricultural workers. Ayn Rand afficianado Paul Ryan is leading a bipartisan delegation (consisting of only one token Democrat) to wheel and deal on behalf of Obama and the oligarchs each of them serve in his own unique Good Cop/Bad Cop way.


Dastardly Duopolists


Denis Neville said...

The plutocracy is ruling by coopting the Presidency and Congress.

No longer able to keep the TPP quiet, Obama has instead devised a strategy for lying to us.

Why is it so acceptable to lie to promote trade deals?

Obama said the US-Korea Free Trade Agreement would increase US exports by $10 billion and create 70,000 new jobs. Exports plummeted by $3.5 billion and 40,000 jobs were lost! Clinton said that NAFTA would create 200,000 new jobs. 680,000 were lost!!!

In 2008 Democrats selected a conservative President and quite a few Blue Dogs, closer to the Republicans than their own base. None of this was secret. It was all done out in the open for everyone to see.

The plutocracy keeps winning and the public is increasingly disempowered. How do we defeat them as beaten down and demoralized as so many are? Despair over the lack of collective action fuels this demoralization.

The bipartisanship alliance [that dare not speak] between the Tea Party and the left …

An organized movement could go a long way to counteracting the power of the plutocrats and their minions. Why haven’t activists and their organizers studied and adopted the lessons and strategies of many Latin America nations in overcoming plutocracies?

They are dysfunctional. There has been an ongoing failure of activists and their organizers and an appalling lack of strategy to develop the organizational, collective, political muscle necessary to defeat the plutocracy.

Political power is constituted of getting people elected, getting people unelected and being able to reward or punish people for doing or not doing what you want. If we can’t do any of those things, we have no power.

“If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom, and yet depreciate agitation, are men who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. They want the ocean without the awful roar of its many waters. This struggle may be a moral one; or it may be a physical one; or it may be both moral and physical; but it must be a struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.” - Frederick Douglas

Where is the awareness of the public at large? Nobody appears to be educating them about TPP. Nobody seems to calling for a mobilization against TPP.

“The revolution takes place in your mind. Once you change your mind and decide that there's something wrong that you want to affect that's when the revolution takes place. But first you have to look at things and decide what you can do. 'Something's wrong and I have to do something about it. I can affect this change.' Then you become a revolutionary person. It's not all about fighting. It's not all about going to war. It's about going to war with the problem and deciding you can affect that problem. When you want to make things better you're a revolutionary." - Gil Scott-Heron, "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

Bert Gold, Frederick Maryland said...

I am against the fast track coup.

I wrote yesterday on the NYTimes about Obama's opportunism, lack of courage and inconsistency. This is just another instance of that. "Hope and Change" my foot.

Today, David Brooks (Brooksie) tries to tell us that Obama goofed at the World Terrorism Conference by thinking that all the terrorists want is a nice house, a dog and a car.

In that critique, Brooks is correct, but then he goes on to tell us that terrorists are driven by some inner force toward their perception of religious perfection. This is nonsense -- and is yet another form of political correctness, because it refuses to use the term 'cult'. Let's see if the NYTimes will print *this* comment on Brooksie:

"David Brooks writes as if inside the soul of every Islamic extremist there were a driving force toward purity and immortality. That's absolutely incorrect.

Inside the soul of every Islamic extremist is a driving force for social acceptance. It is a cult, nothing more. If it weren't organized none of this would be happening. It is the organization that must be crushed.

And, although it will be difficult for moderate Islam to eclipse the crazies, it must be done or the crisis will continue endlessly. It will take a cult of a moderate sort to eclipse the fanatic cult we now see on the world stage."

Bert Gold, Frederick, MD

annenigma said...

Imperialist Capitalism is the world's most powerful Death Cult and has the bodies, rubble, failed states, and war profiteers to prove it. It has absolutely no respect for the sovereignty of nations, integrity of human life, or the life of planet Earth itself. It has now positioned itself with trade agreements to usurp legal systems as well as governments.

Military engagement with ISIS/terrorist extremists is going to be a battle royale because no matter how bad the terrorists act, the 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' and the Superpower Death Cult continues to make enemies everywhere.

We know who has everything to lose and who has nothing to lose. We are entering cataclysmic times.

Karen Garcia said...

Denis and all,

There is organized resistance to the TPP but it isn't being covered by the msm. The few NYT articles written about it have largely been closed to reader comment. No doubt because there are plenty of readers who are ready, willing and able to provide facts. Incidentally, Obama made the TPP the subject of his weekly address today; the WH transcript link was broken as of Sat. a.m. but I assume it's a rehash of the rehash.

Bert Gold,

I highly recommend "Fields of Blood" by Anne Armstrong, exploring how the world's religions were born and how they have been used, misused and abused to wage violence. One factoid I hadn't been aware of was that Islam was originally based on capitalism, a moral way for tribal agriculturists to protect their land from roving bands of nomads. Also, the first Crusade's first victims were the Jews of Europe, whom the Christians plundered on the way to plundering Muslims who were plundering their own way into Europe. Long story short, the entire human race is one unholy mess! Even the allegedly peaceful Buddhists are not immune. (Myanmar.)

As Anne and Bert say, the battle is between and among death cults.

Karen Garcia said...

Correction: the author of Fields of Blood is Karen Armstrong, not Anne Armstrong.