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The NAFTA Two-Step

Hillary's Stock and Trade


Is Hillary Clinton a political weather vane or a political compass?

Consider her latest detour from the NAFTA and WTO policies of her husband. Last
week she announced her opposition to the proposed trade agreement between the U.S.
and South Korea. The place for her remarks was a town hall meeting in Michigan
organized by the AFL-CIO.

She described the agreement between Bush and the South Koreans, requiring
Congressional approval, as "inherently unfair." "It will hurt the U.S. auto
industry, increase our trade deficit, cost us good middle-class jobs and make
America less competitive."

No kidding! Where has she been for the past fifteen years? For those words could
have described the consequences of both NAFTA and the WTO. The U.S. auto industry
has been emigrating to Mexico and China. The trade deficit has gone off the
charts, nearing nine hundred billion dollars in 2007 and is four times greater
than what it was ten years ago. Industrial job loss is being joined by the
outsourcing of white collar jobs in even larger numbers.

About 90 percent of the products sold in the L.L. Bean catalogue are imports or
produced by foreign manufacturers.

Corporate managed trade-mis-named free trade-is draining our country's

competitiveness, as U.S. corporations take their factories and jobs abroad to
authoritarian or dictatorial nations, especially China. Imagine modern capital
equipment, and 50¢ an hour for workers who are making things for the U.S. market,
without fair labor standards, pollution controls and other standards companies
here have to comply with.

Senator Clinton felt reassured with her opposition. Ford Motor Company and the
Chrysler group of DaimlerChrysler came out against the Korea deal before Hillary

A politician like Hillary Clinton has her finger to the wind. The workers and
domestic companies are providing her with the wind. Still, she has not supported
the renegotiation of NAFTA and WTO which the U.S. can force by utilizing the
Treaties' 6 month notice of withdrawal from each of these autocratic systems of
transnational governance and secret courts known as NAFTA and WTO. Not enough
organized citizen wind power compared to the corporate power behind those trade

If Senator John F. Kennedy's best-selling book Profiles in Courage was updated,

nothing Hillary Clinton has done in the Congress would come close to being a

As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she has not challenged the
many GAO documented boondoggle military contracts. One gigantic weapon system the
F-22 aircraft has been privately denounced by people in the Office of the
Secretary of Defense who believe this aircraft is clearly unnecessary and
saturated with cost over-runs.

Whether the causes are wasteful, corrupt military contracts or generally the
corporate crime wave from Enron to Wall Street, Senator Clinton has not been there
in the Congress to advance comprehensive corporate crime legislation and larger
enforcement resources.

Nor has she taken on the hundreds of billions of dollars in corporate welfare-
subsidies, giveaways, handouts and bailouts for big business-that consume the
contributions of millions of small taxpayers.

Even in New York City, have you heard Senator Clinton object to taxpayer-funded
corporate sports stadiums, while health clinics, schools, libraries and public
works decay for lack of public investment? Tax dollars for entertainment are ok by

Some of her paucity of candor is not going unnoticed, however. In explaining why
she voted for George Bush's Iraq War resolution in 2002, she said she believed
that it called for an attempted diplomatic solution. There were no words in that
resolution to support that belief. She is a lawyer. She also knows that an
amendment by Senator Carl Levin, a fellow Democrat, demanded just such a prior
diplomatic effort. She voted against the Levin proposal.

Still, Hillary, with Bill right there, is the frontrunner for the Democratic
Party's nomination. The money from commercial interests, which the Clintons have
favored and coddled for years, is pouring into her campaign coffers.

So she travels around the country with her twofer strategy pandering to powerful
audiences and flattering gatherings of Democratic voters. She has watched Bill's
lack of political fortitude win elections in this two-party, elected dictatorship
against the hapless Republicans. Why should she be any different?

If she wins the primary and the November elections the country will get another
kind of twofer in the White House. Here they'll go again.

Ralph Nader

Hitchens Takes a Roll in the Hay

The Sleep of Reason


It has long been fashionable to criticize Christopher Hitchens for his appalling
adherence to the gangsters of the Bush Regime, whom he has for many years painted
in the kind of bold, heroic tones we've not seen since the heyday of Socialist
Realism. And while Hitchens is now trying to get back to where he once belonged to
some extent -- washing his hands of a war whose failure he now blames largely on
the anti-war left and instead shooting a few fish in the barrel of religious
absurdities to regain his "contrarian" cred -- he has remained a much-reviled
figure in quarters where once he was feted as a prince. (Indeed, no less than Gore
Vidal anointed Hitchens as his "dauphin" -- but that was many years ago, and as
we've seen, the indefatigable octogenarian shows no sign of needing a successor.)

But I think it's time to give over the rancor surrounding Hitchens. Let us
exercise compassionate conservatism toward him -- by compassionately refusing to
read his embarrassing outpourings, thereby conserving our eyesight and senses for
more important tasks. I came to this conclusion after reading his recent piece in
The Guardian, a florid -- paean, I suppose he would call it -- to the literary
festival in the small Welsh border village of Hay-on-Wye.

For those who don't know, the Hay Festival -- or "Guardian Hay Festival," as it's
now called, with the paper's corporate branding -- is Britain's premier gathering
of glittering literati. Although it's probably interesting in many respects --
some good discussions, lively debates -- it is also a luvvy-fest of fearsome
proportions, the Olympics of literary log-rolling. At least, that's how the
Guardian's gushingly self-serving coverage of the event -- more People Magazine
than Paris Review -- makes it seem. (I've never been to the festival, although I
have been to Hay-on-Wye, out of season. It had a lot of nice little secondhand
bookstores, although none of them offered the kind of treasures and rarities I
used to unearth regularly at McKay's Used Books in Knoxville way back in the last
century. So the place was a bit of a let-down in that respect. Maybe they bring
out the hard stuff when the big crowds come calling. But I digress.)

Hitchens has long been a regular at the Hay Festival, of course, coming from the
small pool of chummy/backbiting Oxbridgeans that looms so large in British
politics and culture. His Guardian was apparently meant to be an enticing curtain-
raiser for the Festival, an ostensibly beguiling reminiscence of Hitchens' first
time at Hay, and the many dreamy times that followed. But take a gander at this
prose, and see if you can find it in your heart to feel anything but pity and
embarrassment for the poor creature who wrote it:

"Shall I soon forget the time that the whispering limo came to pick me up, at
about midnight from a dinner at the Amis/Fonseca house, and disgorged a driver who
said: "It's time"? Through the flickering night we went, darting through an
antique township or so, and crossing the Severn or the Bristol Channel at some
point, until having been shown to a room in some stone-built hotel, I fell asleep
only to wake to the sounds of bleating sheep. To this very day, I think of Hay-on-
Wye as a place standing at some slight angle to the rest of the known universe:
perhaps a sort of Brigadoon that isn't really there for the rest of the

A "twelvemonth" is what everybody in Britain calls a "year," by the way. They talk
fancy like that over here. Also, all the limousines in Britain whisper, when they
don't actually purr. Just so you know. But back to the literary journalism:

"Led away from the tent and towards the well-stocked Green Room, I was at first
astonished to find myself meeting friends I had not seen for 30 years, and then
alarmed when shown to a lavatory that seemed half Lilliput and half Brobdingnag.
(It turned out to be the bathroom of an infants' school, which was some balm to my
already disordered senses.) As I took my leave, I was asked if I would like to
come back, and replied that I would be willing to risk the trip if I could be
assured that it didn't involve some kind of dream-state. Some fairy gold was then
pressed into my hand, and I went back to Washington DC and the reign of the

Yes, no doubt it was all very banal back in DC when "Paul Wolfowitz and myself
[needed] to go and convince the President to go to war," as CounterPunch noted
last year. For what is a few hundred thousand dead innocents when one can be
transported each year to that magical Brigadoon of tiny toilets and dream states?

"They tell me that all this is now available on some digital system, but I don't
trust myself to check. Talking on stage with Martin Amis about his Welsh nanny?
Dreamt it. Debating with Stephen Fry about faith? Come on. Discussing brain
surgery with Ian McEwan, in front of a gigantic audience? What am I, some kind of

With heroic forbearance, we'll skip over that last remark, and move on to the
amusing anecdote that closes the piece:

"On the Evelyn Waugh centennial, after doing a Vile Bodies/Black Mischief/Scoop
panel with Stephen Fry and Lord Deedes -- exhausting enough in itself -- I was
handed a late invitation to dinner at Madresfield Court, the country house said to
have inspired Waugh's Brideshead Revisited. It was made plain to me that a proper
dinner jacket was a strict requirement. I murmured to [Hay director Peter
Florence] that I had not a rag of formal dress to my name. With half an hour to
go, he murmured in turn into a cellphone. From every quarter of the compass, there
came the cummerbund, the shoes, the trousers and the rest of the kit."

Really, should we not let Hitchens wander happily in his fairy land, where
whispering limos whisk him off to country houses and cummerbunds magically appear?
In fact, let's encourage him to stay there -- then maybe he and his good friend
Wolfie won't talk the president into any more invasions.

Chris Floyd is an American journalist based in the UK. He writes the Empire
Burlesque blog.