Thursday, October 8, 2015

Dancing With the Stars: The TPP Tango

This just in: Quasi-contestant Joe Biden has hurt himself badly during rehearsals and might get kicked off the show even before his rumored debut this weekend. Since he was so instrumental in behind the scenes arm-twisting his former Congressional colleagues into granting Boss Obama fast track authority to negotiate the biggest corporate coup the world has ever known, there is no way he can turn such a giant pratfall into a graceful waltz to the White House.

No matter that Bernie Sanders has been practicing and perfecting his own moves against the Trans-Pacific Partnership for years now. Hillary Clinton will refuse to dance the volatile head-snapping TPP Tango with him at next Tuesday's Democratic preliminaries. Instead, she'll perform her own solo version of the bait-and-switch Quick Step Flip Flop in hopes of making Bernie look like a wallflower before a viewing audience of millions.

To much orchestrated fanfare, Hillary has now "come out" against the TPP in much the same way that she "came out" for marriage equality. She lifted her calculating moistened finger to the wind and detected the prevailing direction. It read Due Left.

Practiced mover and shaker that she is, Hillary gave herself plenty of wiggle room in her preview number with PBS's Judy Woodruff. (Parenthetical parsings and asides are my own)

JUDY WOODRUFF: So let’s start with the big announcement from President Obama this week about a trade deal.


JUDY WOODRUFF: The Trans-Pacific Partnership. The U.S. and 11 other countries covering 40 percent of the global economy, 800 million consumers. It’s already started a big battle between people who love free trade and people who care more about protectionism. Where do you come down?

HILLARY CLINTON: I think that there are still a lot of unanswered questions, but for me, it really comes down to those three points that I made, and the fact that we’ve learned a lot about trade agreements in the past years. Sometimes they look great on paper. I know when President Obama came into office, he inherited a trade agreement with South Korea. I, along with other members of the Cabinet, pushed hard to get a better agreement. We think we made improvements.
Now looking back on it, it doesn’t have the results we thought it would have in terms of access to the market, more exports, et cetera.

(Mistakes were made. The audience and judges are asked to pay no attention to the inconvenient truth that Hillary pushed hard for the TPP during her tenure as Obama's Secretary of State, a grand total of 45 separate times, to be precise.  During a 2012 visit to Australia she called the Mystery Package that she now claims to know nothing about "the gold standard" of trade agreements. It seems in retrospect that she trusted herself without verifying herself. Just what we need in a commander in chief.)

JUDY WOODRUFF: So are you saying that as of today, (wink, nod) this is not something you could support?

HILLARY CLINTON: What I know about it, as of today, (nod, wink) I am not in favor of what I have learned about it. And there’s one other element I want to make because I think it’s important. Trade agreements don’t happen in a vacuum, and in order for us to have a competitive economy in the global marketplace, there are things we need to do here at home that help raise wages and the Republicans have blocked everything President Obama tried to do on that front.
So for the larger issues — and then what I know, and again, I don’t have the text, we don’t yet have all the details, I don’t believe it’s going to meet the high bar I have set.

(That was quite the crafty disingenuous two-step, other than the unfortunate gaffe of "making an element," whatever that means. What little she claims to know about it, this very minute, is that she is not in favor of what little she deliberately has chosen not to know. Then she clumsily pivots to pretending to defend Obama against the same Republicans who are very much on board with the TPP. Smoke and mirrors won't necessarily get you that coveted mirror ball trophy, Hillary!)  

JUDY WOODRUFF: So is President Obama wrong? I mean, he’s vigorously descending (sic) this. He is saying that it does protect jobs. He says that when it comes to worrying about jobs that automation and technology are more responsible than trade agreements.

HILLARY CLINTON: Look, I think the president has been extraordinarily effective in making as strong a case as could be made and I think his hard work and that of his team has certainly moved this agreement, again, based on what I read about it because I can’t read the agreement yet, quite a distance. But I do worry that we’ve got an equation here. How do we raise incomes in America?

(Woodruff obligingly turns the conversation into a paso doble bullshit fight between two plutocratic politicians. Hillary obligingly defends the "descending" Boss and pretends that she was not an integral part of the "team" which has been selling this deal from hell for years. Based on what she now reads about what she cannot read, she ignores the Woodruff question and asks an off-topic rhetorical one of her own.  How do "we" raise incomes in America? She does not know what she does not know. If that worries her, you can imagine how much it worries people who are only a paycheck or an illness away from outright destitution.)

HILLARY CLINTON: On the one hand, trade is a part of it, but it’s not the only answer, and on the other, if we don’t get more investments in education and science and research and infrastructure and clean energy the kinds of things that will create jobs here at home, then I’m afraid on net it won’t meet the high bar that I’ve set.

(This was typically sneaky. Whenever you hear a centrist politician say "on the one hand," get ready for the dance move called the Heel Turn. Hillary learned this technique from Bill, the Heel. Another way of describing it is feinting to the left while slyly moving right.

Granted, she is nowhere near as adept at the footsy subterfuge as Obama, who  perfected the Michael Jackson Moonwalk early in his tenure, with such variations as promising a public option while secretly delivering to the insurance and drug cartels. The latest version has him calling the job-destroying TPP "progressive, and good for workers." 

As Hillary pussy-foots around her own real agenda for crass electoral purposes, she is dog-whistling loud and clear to Wall Street that she will, in fact, eventually support the TPP. But first she needs enough fig leaves to cover herself. These are known as "side deals." For example, she will probably endorse the TPP if the Republicans pass a temporary highway bill to provide a few temporary jobs. She might negotiate a little extra temporary financial aid for permanently displaced workers. Plus, if she can get her wealthy donor friends to fund more social impact bonds to place their cynical bets on a few token suffering people, she'll then feel so much better about throwing most of the people under the bus. This, in essence, is the definition of the High Neoliberal Bar. Screw people economically as you embrace them socially. Preferably accomplish this twisty strain of a stretch in front of as many corporate media cameras as inhumanely possible.)

JUDY WOODRUFF: But just quickly, if this agreement is rejected, Asia experts are saying this is going to influence — it’s going to decrease the influence of the U.S. in Asia, it is going to give a boost to China, which is trying to become more dominant, and doesn’t it conflict with your pivot to Asia when you were secretary of state?

HILLARY CLINTON: I don’t think so, because the best way that we can exercise influence in Asia is to remain the world’s strongest economy here at home and that means we have to have more middle-class jobs, more people being in the middle class, more people being able to get into the middle class, and we haven’t looked at this from a competitive perspective because the Republicans have stood in the way .And so for my analysis, I think that there is a strong argument that our leadership, our strength, our influence begins with having an economy that is producing good jobs with rising incomes, and I see the connection there. 

Exercising Influence Peddlers

(A patriotic, partisan, parochial and an utterly meaningless little word salad. Say "middle class" often enough -- say, three times in one paragraph -- and you might get a few people believing that there still is such a thing as the middle class. In Clintonland, the enemy is never the oligarchy -- it's those crazy Republicans.)

To sum up all the fears, and to be fair,  Hillary does deserve a very tiny amount of credit for throwing a flimsy toy plastic monkey wrench into the corporate takeover of the world. But her backers know that it's all part of the electoral game. They can afford to bide their greedy time as they continue to rake in record profits and amass most of the world's riches at the expense of everybody else.

And for the duration, Hillary will bust her moves as she prepares to bust our chops. If you just can't wait for her Democratic debate performance next week, here's a fun clip to tide you over. Thrill to Hill and Bill grinding it up at Vernon Jordan's birthday bash this summer.


Meredith NYC said...

Love the dance metaphor and ballet photo--a long stretch! Also see Krugman blog--says he's doing more research on TPP, we await his findings! Yet didn't he win the nobel for international trade research, or something?

Off topic but interesting.

Karen, and all......When you get a chance, you might look at these from public editor blog nyt. What do you think?

Readers Will Rule, Says The Times, So Don’t Be Shy
Oct. 7. Margaret Sullivan.
Sullivan says:

“A sweeping memo sent Wednesday to the Times staff (and quickly made public) lays out big ambitions for the company’s next five years. Most notably, the goal is to double digital revenue to $800 million by 2020.
The key paragraph: “The recognition that our most devoted readers generate the vast majority of our revenue will have a clarifying effect in setting priorities and confronting tradeoffs. This unites the entire company around the shared goal of improving the experience for our loyal, habituated audience.

So, go ahead and let them hear your voices. You can write and I’ll forward your mail to the right people. Or you can share your views in the comments here.
According to the memo, you are “at the center of everything we do.” Consider yourselves empowered.”

So readers will ‘set priorities’? Does that mean better coverage of the 2016 campaign, and better op ed columns on issues??? Did the complaints about Bernie Sanders have any effect? Don’t think so, but I haven’t read everything.

AND ALSO –Sullivan’s prior post:

As Print Fades, Part 3: Sponsorships and Start-ups
She says:
“This is the third post in an occasional series looking at The Times’s efforts to survive and thrive in the digital age.

The description of a new job in The Times’s newsroom would have been startling just a few years ago. Even last week, it was enough to cause many Times journalists to do a double take.

A memo from The Times’s executive and editorial page editors announced on Thursday that a senior editor, Trish Hall, is being assigned to:

— Work with the newsroom and opinion department to “analyze articles and projects that are in the works and might lend themselves to sponsorship.” In doing so, she will work in close contact and cooperation with the head of advertising at The Times.”

Sponsorship???? What does this mean? Yikes!

Meredith NYC said...

I for one am tired of the finger to the wind phrase, especially a ‘moistened’ finger. That’s for when we don’t like the conclusion so we call them hypocrites. But let’s ask, what’s the diff betw that and like, ‘democracy’? Politicians respond to public opinion, to changes in attitudes, and to pressure from voters and from their competitors for office. Is that necessarily finger in the wind hypocrisy?

Sanders has pulled Clinton left on this. She says TPP has developed worse and is revising her opinion. Now those faux liberals who are only weakly opposing TPP will have to notice how the trend is going, and how it makes them look.

Ed Spenser said...

@Meredith NYC,

Sanders "pulling Clinton to the left" is a trope right out of the New York Times.

The difference between her sudden change of tune and, like, democracy, is that democracy is bottom-up and Hillary is top-down. As in, like, trickle down supply side populist bullshit.

Jay–Ottawa said...

What doth it availeth a man (or a woman) if he (or she) raceth through the Times from front to back every day, yet faileth to gain in wisdom, or the ability to parse a text, or even to advance in reading comprehension?

The best the NY Times can do is what it's done. Look at what it's done. Try to remember.

One more thing: As we commit to a dance with the stars of campaign 2016, lets try to avoid another slippery slide into the lesser-of-two-evils defense of evil.

As for Hillary, c'mon. When it comes to a real turnaround with her history, try not to lose your own sense of balance. Or skepticism. Stealing another pretty balloon from the Sanders bandwagon and attaching it to her lying diesel machine does not signal a new direction. Here again, the best Hillary can do is what she's been doing for a very long time.

Want to know what Hillary's up to? Don't read her lips; just follow the shadow that follows her everywhere on the dance floor. Her shadow is more telling as a guide than her verbal gymnastics.

Barney Fife said...

I, for one, am tired of reading gossipy comments about what the New York Times is doing at any given moment. I enjoy every time Karen rips a new one into that propaganda rag, but jeeze, do we really need breaking news alerts every time Paul Krugman blows his nose or licks his fingers or farts, and what their millions and billions and trillions in digital revenue is?

Andy Griffith said...

I am with, Barney. Enough about the New York Times. This was a great essay, worth of great reader comments - not a change of subject to get us off the focus of a destructive trade deal that is going to leave millions worse off. I don't care about the New York Times any more. It has proven itself to be a tool of the propaganda machine. I care that Hillary is cutting herself wiggle room to go back on her campaign promises and that Bernie has taken a solid stance against the treaty. And I care that it is a treaty not an agreement, as Obama is selling it.

Let's have the courtesy to stick with the subject at hand.

Valerie said...

Great journalism, Karen. Wish you had done the interview instead of Judy Woodruff - It would have been great to see Hillary have a lot less wiggle-room. I remember, years ago, a friend saying about Bill, "I can't believe a word that man says." Well, that's how I feel about Obama and his political incarnation, Hillary. Good to remember Bernie has taken a strong stance against the TPP.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Did you ever see the New Yorker cartoon where this cat, high up in an elm tree and now utterly panicked, whips out his cell phone and calls home to say: "Call the firemen, I've done it again."

Like that cat, I've done it again. I've written to the two senators from New York to express my disapproval of the TPP treaty. I know, I know, probably a waste of time. But is there any other straw to reach for? I'm panicked about TPP's passing and I've heard that some Democrats in the senate just might be thinking about voting it down. Maybe we should all do it again just one more time? If the senate heeds us, whoopee! If they don't, well we have more proof, as if we needed more, that such gestures have become a waste of time, and we're fools to write our "representatives" in this great democracy.

Jay–Ottawa said...

Here, if it helps other cats who like to climb trees to the tip of pointlessness, is a copy of my email to NY's senators. Be my guest and copy it whole or adapt it as you please to send your senators a message.

Dear Senator,

I understand the Senate will soon be voting the TPP Treaty up or down. Please vote NO to this travesty.

Among the most dangerous provisions of TPP, as you must know, is the one that grants supranational powers to corporate panels meeting behind closed doors. Their decisions cannot be appealed.

Let's not give corporations the right to bully this country and funnel more public money into corporate pockets. For example, under provisions of the TPP corporations could impose large fines on a local authority in New York because the local authority's environmental or health laws cause the foreign corporation to loose money. Under TPP the foreign corporations' interests will be allowed to trump state and national law.

Please don't vote our national sovereignty away. As you know, such provisions are already in effect in bilateral trade treaties elsewhere (e.g., Uruguay) and are causing major problems in weaker countries. TPP, if approved, would further diminish local, state and national authority while increasing global corporate power. And New York taxpayers will be paying the fines imposed by these supranational corporations.

Pearl said...

Jay: The pen is hopefully more effective than the sword and I applaud you for taking the time and making the effort to write out a suitable e-mail to send to our Senators. It is a guideline for the rest of us.

I make it a point to sign many petitions that come in on my computer hoping they have some effect and although it is time consuming, hopefully it gives the powers that are in charge some warnings.

Now to get the election here in Canada over with so we can breathe freely with a better gang in charge. No one can predict what will happen it is so close.

As to the comments about not wasting time on the NYTimes, at least we can see it trying to survive and definitely affected by incoming comments from us which might actually improve its format and reporting. Krugman is a waste of time but it does occasionally have decent articles which should be encouraged by our support. It is nice to see the Republican party committing political suicide and god willing, Hillary as well.