January 2, 2016

Crisis: On Obama, On Progressive Gains, On TTP, TTIP, TiSA and CETA
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The Obama Report Card: The Good, the Bad and the

2. Reasons to Celebrate: Key Progressive Gains in 2015
The Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals Threatening
     Ordinary People in 2016

This is a Nederlog of Saturday, January 2, 2016.

This is the first crisis blog of 2016. It is not quite normal, because - as may have been expected - all three entries are survey articles: item 1 is about the pros and cons of Obama's presidency (and I am rather more negative than the writer is); item 2 is about some key progressive gains in 2015 (again I am rather more negative than its writer is); and item 3 is about the "Trade Deals" (itself a false
propaganda term) that threaten the whole world that is not mega-rich or a lawyer for the mega-rich (and again I may be more negative than the writer is).

I am sorry to be so negative, but I think there is extremely little in the present political world to be positive about, and there are greater dangers for the resurrection of a kind of multi-national corporate fascism than ever before - and this resurrection also is done in secret, for the fascist deals that will surrect such fascistic systems are all so secret that not even parliamentarians have access to these purported new extremely undemocratic "laws".

1. The Obama Report Card: The Good, the Bad and the Incomplete

The first item today is by Steven Rosenfeld on AlterNet:
This starts as follows:
When Barack Obama ran for president in 2008 and 2012, he didn’t just run on hope and change. He made hundreds of promises, everything from changing the way CEOs are taxed to allowing Americans to buy prescription drugs abroad. Those and scores more didn’t happen. And he hasn’t really addressed some of the key issues that will mark his his legacy, such as his overseas assassination policies involving drones and special forces.
In brief, Barack Obama operated as a sick cynic: He promised almost anything almost anybody who might vote for him desired him to do, and he wiped his ass with his promises after he was elected: That - he might have said - is modern politics, as he and Clinton and Blair desire it to be.

There is also this, a little lower:

Obviously, he’s been better on most issues than a Republican would have been, and certainly far better than their new flock of candidates. But as the GOP has become radicalized and pulled the political center to the right, some of Obama’s moderate stances have been wrongly labeled as liberal, which demonstrates how far right the public debate has become.
That is one way of phrasing it. Another - that seems more correct to me - simply says Obama went with the GOP, and turned right with them, though not as much, not because he had to, but either because he wanted to or because he didn't care.

And here is a statement on the selection of the points the article does treat:

While there are dozens of issues and policies we could have included, we have chosen five in each of these categories that are especially important, compelling or decisive.
It's not precisely clear, but OK: one has to make selections anyway in a journalistic article. I'll accept the present choice as more or less fair, though indeed other choices could have been made.

In fact, here they all are, presented as titles, and without the texts that are
given for each number, for which you may consult the above dotted link. I'll chop them up in three groups, as happens in the article, with brief comments under each group.

First there are the "Big Successes"
Big Successes
1. Obamacare.
2. Stopping the great recession.
3. Expanding civil rights.
4. Embracing diplomacy.
5. Climate change and science.
I'd say only 4. and 5. are positives, and neither is large: any president should have embraced diplomacy, and climate change is simply what 99% of the scientists agree on (and as I said: if you don't understand the titles, you can click the above dotted link):

"Obamacare" in fact is Romneycare, which was and is not progressive; Obama "stopped" the great recession - among other things - by refusing to prosecute the criminals who were bank managers; the "civil rights" he is supposed to have defended are those of homosexuals and LGBT people, while he continued the - quite intentional - destruction of most civil rights in the Constitution, and he let all Americans be surveilled by his secret services, which is deeply criminal and totally anti-democratic.

Next there are the "Big Failures"
Big Failures
6. Empowering GOP extremists.
7. Expanding the national security state
8. Expanding charter schools.
9. Coddling corporate America.
10. Political reform obstructionist.
I agree, although I don't believe Obama thinks of all of these as "failures": He certainly seems to have wanted both 7. and 9.

Finally, there are the "Big Incompletes":

Big Incompletes
11. Addressing economic inequality.
12. Comprehensive immigration reform.
13. Lessening gun violence in America.
14. Racist policing and police violence.
15. Getting out of the Middle East’s wars.
I think 4 out of these 5 - all but 13 - are "Big Failures" rather than "Big Incompletes", and indeed part of my reason is that Obama has had seven years now to implement these points, but mostly just didn't.

Here is AlterNet's judgment on Obama (in part):

It’s common for sympathetic pundits to say he’s done the best he can given the GOP’s opposition. But for the most part, Obama’s accomplishments, failures and unfinished business show he’s been a president with a moderate record—except for the security state and drones—even if he’s labeled by his critics as liberal.
Put otherwise: He was a basically conservative president, who mostly followed Bush Jr.'s policies, except for a few points. His record also is quite conservative,
because he is for illegal surveillance of every American; for secrecy; for all neo- fascist secret "Trade Deals" that will totally terminate democracies and national governments; and he excelled only as a liar and deceiver.

2. Reasons to Celebrate: Key Progressive Gains in 2015

The second item is by Andrea Germanos on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:

As the year draws to a close, it's worth noting a handful of progressive gains that people-power made possible:

I agree one may also review 2015 as a year in which some (a very few, it seems to me) "progressive gains" were made.

Andrea Germanos lists the following "progressive gains", and again I merely list the titles, and refer you for the text that comes with each title to the last dotted link:

Feelin' the Bern
Black Lives Matter
Hello, Corbyn
Bye-bye, Harper
Keystone XL Pipeline
Minimum Wage
Marriage Equality
Failure of Global Elite's Austerity

I say. It depends on what you consider "progressive gains".

I am a bit more strict than is Andrea Germanos: While I like Bernie Sanders, agree with Black Lives Matter, and agree with Corbyn (more than not), I'd say these are hardly "progressive gains", and something similar holds for Minimum Wage: At best these are progressive ideals that have not been killed, so far.

But I agree that getting rid of Harper and the Keystone Pipeline were progressive gains, as was Marriage Equality.

But with just three really positive outcomes I cannot say I have many reasons to "celebrate", the more so since Common Dreams has another article, which is the
last I will consider in this Nederlog:

3. The Corporate-Friendly Trade Deals Threatening Ordinary People in 2016

The third item is by Deirdre Fulton on Common Dreams:

This starts as follows:
Corporate media failed to cover the dangers of business-friendly trade deals in 2015, despite growing grassroots opposition to such pacts—and increasing public awareness about their contents.
Here are the deals you need to know to be part of the fight in the coming year:
Let me start with a definition of "fascism", which I owe to the American Heritage Dictionary [1]:
"fascism" is defined as "A system of government that exercises a dictatorship of the extreme right, typically through the merging of state and business leadership, together with belligerent nationalism."
This describes both Mussolini's and Hitler's systems, though indeed more might have been added. It also described - very well indeed - the societies that will result from adopting the TPP, TTIP, TiSA and CETA, each of which are secret, even for parliamentarians, so that no one can read them (for which reason one must turn to Wikileaks, were parts have been published), and that simply because each of them is completely FOR a fascist system as has been just defined: The business leadership will determine all; the people will determine nought.

And Deirdre Fulton is quite right that the main media pretend these "Trade Deals" do not exist, nor are they worthy of being commented upon:

Although these falsely and misleadingly titled "Trade Deals", which in fact are about the total ending of democracy, and the introduction of a world- wide neo-fascistic system in which the multi-national corporations and their managers will have all the powers that were reserved to national governments and democracies, the corrupted main media almost never even address these "deals", which in fact are also secret, simply because making them not secret and honestly discussing them would fail the adoption of these deals (or would have failed all), simply because they are completely anti-democratic.

Here is a survey of these deals:

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) — U.S. and 11 Pacific Rim countries

It was a "great day for corporate America" when the U.S. Senate passed Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), in June, effectively surrendering legislators' ability to fully debate or even amend trade agreements like the TPP that have been negotiated entirely in secret. And when the text of the deal was finally released this fall, it confirmed the worst fears of environmentalists, public health advocates, and digital rights activists: the TPP, they said, was "worse than anything we could've imagined."
My own opinion is that any law that has been signed in secrecy, and any law that is introduced without a good and public discussion of its contents and impli- cations, is a fundamentally authoritarian anti-democratic "law" that precisely for that reason cannot be accepted as a law.

Therefore I am against each of these Neo-Fascist Deals - and I am sorry, but "Trade Deals" is such a gross and misleading lie that I will refuse it to these "deals":

They aim at introducing totally pro-corporate fascism, where anything
that threatens to lessens the expected profits of multi-national corporations can be torpedoed by them, while condemning the population that tried to protect itself to enormous financial punishments.

Next, there is this, that threatens to make Europe much like the USA, without any protection against any of the plans of the multi-national corporations:

TransAtlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) — U.S. and European Union

And push back against the so-called trade deal, which would have negative implications for everything from human rights and global climate goals to democracy and food safety, goes much deeper than that. As of October, more than three million people had signed a petition demanding an end to the TTIP negotiations —showing, as Global Justice Now director Nick Dearden said, "that the EU does not have the public mandate to continue this deal."
I am very glad I am 65 rather than 15, and do not have any children because I fell ill at 28. The TTIP simply outlines a neo-fascist system, that may also last forever with the surveillance of everyone by almost any secret service.

Here is another neo-fascist corporate plan to deny all power to the people, and to give all powers to the managers of fascist multi-national corporations:

Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) — 32 countries in Europe; 7 in Asia; 5 in North America (including U.S.); 3 in South America; 2 in Oceania; and 1 in Africa

Leaks in 2015 exposed how the pact "favors privatization over public services, limits governmental action on issues ranging from safety to the environment using trade as a smokescreen to limit citizen rights," Larry Cohen, president of Communications Workers of America, said in June
Larry Cohen is quite right: It will be the end of Europe as I have known it, and it will be the start of a neo-fascist Europe where everybody who is not a manager or a lawyer of a multi-national corporations will be without power and without rights.

Finally, there is this sick neo-fascist system of corporate super-powers:

Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) — Canada and Europe

As Common Dreams reported in October,  the Canada-EU deal would create "a parallel legal system for corporations" that could make "regulations in sensitive public service sectors such as education, water, health, social welfare, and pensions prone to all kinds of investor attacks." 

"What is at stake in trade agreements such as TTIP and CETA is our right to vital services, and more, it is about our ability to steer services of all kinds to the benefit of society at large," the Brussels-based Corporate Europe Observatory declared at the time. "If left to their own course, trade negotiations will eventually make it impossible to implement decisions for the common good."

Yes, indeed - and there will be very many "legal decisions" (reached somewhere where no member of the public is even admitted) that deny the rights of anything to even exist that might lessen the expected profits of the multi-national corporations.

That is the type of society I expect, with great horror, also. I am sorry, but while it has not fully arrived yet, I am not so blind that I cannot see it coming.


[1] Let me say once more that I am probably more interested in fascism than most, because my grandfather was murdered in a concentration camp by the Nazis, and my father survived more than 3 years and 9 months of German concentration camps as a convicted communist "political terrorist" (according to collaborating Dutch judges: in fact he was in the resistance against the Nazis).

As to politics: In case you want to know more about politics (which in nearly any case is justified) you might read these texts. (I know it's a lot, but I read all, and
most are rather well written, and more so than your daily paper is.)

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