April 20, 2015


Just when hope and courage are called for, Labour promises bean-counting (George Monbiot,  14 April 2015 . The Guardian)

Labour has allowed the Conservatives to frame its politics. Frames are the mental structures through which we perceive the world. The dominant Tory frame, constructed and polished across seven years by its skilled cabinet makers, is that the all-important issue is the deficit. The financial crisis, it claims, was caused not by the banks but by irresponsible government spending, for which the only cure is austerity.

In reality, the deficit should rank somewhere in the low hundreds on the list of political priorities. It's a con; an excuse for redrafting the social contract on behalf of the elite. But Labour has meekly acquiesced to this agenda, disputing only the extent of its application. By accepting your opponents' frame, you reinforce their power, allowing them to pull the entire polity into their own arena. No Labour capitulation has been as extreme and catastrophic as the one with which it begins this year's manifesto.

Its promise to cut the deficit every year commits it indefinitely to the Conservative programme, with differences of degree rather than direction.

Lindsey Graham: Bill Clinton Is Jeb's 'Illegitimate Brother' (DANIEL HALPER, 4/20/15, Weekly Standard)

Senator Lindsey Graham, a possible Republican presidential candidate, mocked Jeb Bush for being close to Democrat Hillary Clinton. 

Obama's Trade Agreements Are a Gift to Corporations (ROBERT KUTTNER, APRIL 20, 2015m American Prospect)

Late last week, legislation moved forward that would give President Obama authority to negotiate two contentious trade deals: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). But for the most part, these aren't trade agreements at all. They're a gift to corporations, here and in partner countries that view purely domestic regulations as restraints of trade.

If these deals pass, the pharmaceutical industry could get new leverage to undermine regulations requiring the use of generic drugs. The tobacco industry has used similar "trade" provisions to challenge package label warnings.

A provision in both deals, known as Investor State Dispute Settlement, would allow corporations to do end runs around national governments by taking their claims to special tribunals, with none of the due process of normal law. This provision has attracted the most opposition. It's such a stinker that one of the proposed member nations, Australia, got an exemption for its health and environmental policies.

To get so-called fast-track treatment for these deals, the administration needs special trade promotion authority from Congress. But Obama faces serious opposition in his own party, and he will need lots of Republican votes. He has to hope that Republicans are more eager to help their corporate allies than to embarrass this president by voting down one of his top priorities.

The entirety of modern national politics can be described thus : the contest is a determination of whether the candidate of the right is more plausibly liberal or of the left more plausibly conservative.  
Posted by at April 20, 2015 1:38 PM

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