Your Humble Blogger Discusses the Pending Trade Deals and JP Morgan on Le Show!

I really enjoy speaking with Harry Shearer, both for his engaging manner and his thorough preparation. He worked this interview in from London after a show he’d performed in just wrapped up before heading to Botswana to go to an elephant reserve.

If you have trouble with the embedded link below, you can also listen to our chat at the Le Show website. I hope you’ll see fit to circulate this interview, since the more attention we can bring to this plan to legalize corporate pillage, the better.

Update: Bob Swern just sent me a link to this nausea-inducing editorial (yes, editorial) in the New York Times. I hope those of you who have subscriptions to the Times cancel them immediately and write the editors savaging this piece. They’ve clearly decided to take dictation from the Administration, since even a cursory amount of research would show the claims to be utterly false. Get a load of the Big Lies:

The Obama administration said it wants a “next-generation” agreement that, in addition to lowering tariffs, lowers investment restrictions, improves labor rights, encourages environmental protection and reduces government favoritism of state-owned businesses. That is an ambitious agenda considering that more than 150 countries are struggling to complete a much simpler deal at the World Trade Organization….

A good agreement would lower duties and trade barriers on most products and services, strengthen labor and environmental protections, limit the ability of governments to tilt the playing field in favor of state-owned firms and balance the interests of consumers and creators of intellectual property. Such a deal will not only help individual countries but set an example for global trade talks.

It’s also time, as Confucius recommended, to describe things with their proper names. People who favor this deal are traitors. We need to start calling them that openly and often.

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  1. Fred Pollack

    Harry Shearer’s weekly “Le Show” is also available on iTunes as a free podcast, and it posts on the same day as the radio show (Sunday).

  2. Gerard Pierce

    “It’s also time, as Confucius recommended, to describe things with their proper names. People who favor this deal are traitors. We need to start calling them that openly and often.”

    Now is as good a time as any to start. I should have an article link up on one site within the hour, followed by recommendations to at least two other webmasters. Obama has clearly demonstrated that he is a traitor, and the New York Times is beneath contempt – but we knew that part a long time ago.

    1. different clue

      If there were only some way to make the Tea Party people aware of this and pitch it as a threat to the nation and to sovereignty. And then attach the name Obamatrade to it.

      As in . . . “if you liked Obamacare, you’ll love Obamatrade”. And then describe it.

  3. Dan

    Can Yves get on the Daily Show or the Dylan Ratigan show?
    Probably the only MSM outlets that will touch this topic.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Dylan Ratigan no longer has a show :-(

      You can send the Bill Moyers clip to Jon Stewart and suggest it. Even if they don’t have me, he might decide to do a 3-4 minute treatment based on news clips.

      Frankly, the right wing ought to be every bit as riled about this. Anything the New York Times is for they might be persuaded to be against.

      1. Dugs

        Yves, I’ve been thinking about the notion that progressives (or whatever we are) and libertarians (or whatever THEY are) might have some common issues that we all could conceivably unite around to form a bigger bloc than either individually could manage. This absolutely seems like one of those uniting issues, and not to go off-point from the thread, I’m wondering if, since you seem to have some familiarity with libertarianism (it always struck me as cloud-cuckooland, but what do I know), if you have any plans to do a post at some point on how such an alliance might work.

        1. Jackrabbit

          Before the 2012 elections I proposed several times (here at NC) that the third parties join together as a principled coalition. This would require a power-sharing agreement that would be difficult to negotiate; but, by doing so, they would/could highlight their alternative views and the stark contrast of these views with the duopoly.

          It was clear then, as it is now, that by not coming together, the third-parties virtually guaranty that they are ignored and soundly beaten.

          There didn’t seem to be much interest in this last year, but I have seen quite a calls for some type of working together of (mostly libertarians and progressives) since the 2012 elections.

          1. TimR

            I’ve long thought this a good idea, but people don’t take to it. It might be something “tribal” — the various factions can’t see past superficial lifestyle and cultural differences to the principles they agree on — many of them have a visceral loathing of the other “team” that goes beyond just ideological disagreement. Their opponents are sub-human. I remember seeing a MAD magazine illustration, in an issue where they were taking on the Tea Party — the artist drew his target with a contempt that went beyond good-natured poking fun — it seemed to want to deny them any humanity whatsoever. And some Libertarians or Tea Partiers (some, not all) will similarly take a “dirty hippie” view of those on the left. They would both have to expand their minds, to bridge generational and cultural divides, to, say, show up at a large protest together… And any movement leaders who didn’t like the idea (whether in good faith or as part of a ruling class tactic of divide and conquer) could easily stir up tension and incite division. But I wish it could happen.

            1. hunkerdown

              but people don’t take to it. It might be something “tribal”

              That tribal distinction seems to need periodic reinforcement. I suspect that’s why we have folks like dcblogger and clarence swinney show up and remind the left that the libertarians are icky and that we shouldn’t pledge fealty to them. Old-fashioned fuddy-duddies need others involved in miserable long-term relationships in order to, I dunno, maintain group kinship or keep their misery company or something, unaware or in denial that the next generation has marched on and sees little utility in measuring the success or worth of a relationship by norms of longevity and fidelity.

        2. Kim Kaufman

          There are quite a few “third party” issues that I would not support. There’s a difference between the Greens, who might be disorganized and hopelessly incapable (at present) of going anywhere, and say, the American Independent Party which is closer to the KKK than anything, I think or Peace & Freedom, which I think doesn’t really care for either (at least in LA.

      2. gdc707

        Yes, Dylan’s gone, Olbermann’s gone (neutered), Frank rich is gone, Bob Herbert – gone. Must not get too loud criticizing the Administration and/or Banksters- Wall St. and the corrupt 2 party system or you will be sent packing.

  4. Clive

    TPP Japanese Media Review

    That’s a very grand title for what is about to follow, but I will try to add something of value here. My two pen’neth worth is that, for the TPP, Japan will be pivotal. Without full Japanese participation, TPP is going to be a lame duck (it is a horrible proposal, but luckily it is somewhat vitiated by pretending that China doesn’t exist).

    The problem is, coverage of Japan is — considering we live in a modern age of wonderful communication possibilities — shockingly bad. For a start, there’s very little coverage of what goes on in Japan. And anything you do read is pretty much certain to be wrong. I’m going to attempt to provide some input at TPP negations progress.

    It’s difficult to make much sense of Japanese media without a little understanding of national character. In Japan, the national psychological problem is passive-aggression. (Just to prove I’m an equal opportunities critic of the national psyche of whole countries, for the English it is an underserved superiority complex; sorry, it’s a post-Empire thing, you can’t fight it. For Americans, on the East Coast it’s shameless hutzpah, on the West Coast, it’s kookiness brought on by spending too much time in the California sunshine. Good. Now I’ve annoyed everyone !)

    But, going back to Japan, it’s rarely you get an outright “this is cr@p and we’re not going to take it” reportage. What you can notice is passive aggressive reactions to things that aren’t liked. Read the Daily Mail ( and you’ll be confronted with an overt, unmistakable “Ban this Sick Filth Now” editorial narrative. You’re left in no doubt about what is and what isn’t favoured. That’s an extreme example, but the point is, for western media, you don’t have to struggle to figure out what left-wing and right-wing views are on this- or that- topic. Not so the Japanese media. You have a lot of reading between the lines to do – and, most important – you have to spot the passive aggressive nuances when they appear.

    Where does this leave us on the TPP then ? Well, consider the following in the Asahi Shinbun, a leading Japanese newspaper Don’t worry about trying to understand the text, it doesn’t actually add much, a lot of worthy-but-dull extremely well researched but nonetheless mere factual blah-blah padding. This sort of reporting style is typical of Japanese media. Like a Bento box, it’s simply rice provided as a staple because everyone expects it to be there. No, the real action is in the graphic.

    Let’s take a closer look:

    The left-hand column with the green-and-white pictures are areas covered in the TPP. From top to bottom, these are:
    Milk and Diary Foodstuffs (tariff reductions),
    Sugar (and, presumably, derived products) (tariff reductions),
    Apparel (tariff reductions),
    “reviewing favourable treatment” of State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) (point of interest: would this include GSEs e.g. Fannie and Freddie ?)
    and finally Medicines and expanding patent protection (i.e. reducing generic production rights).

    Then, the column with the red arrows is indicating countries who are “against” TPP provisions. The blue circle indicates countries who are “for” the TPP mandated changes. The table is titled “TPP Negotiation – Fewer Countries Have Issues with Specific Areas”. The flags denote who is pro- and who is anti- this or that clause in the TPP. Now, this is where it gets interesting. Notice how the newspaper article has singled out the USA in the “opposing” column – twice. What is being opposed ? Well, firstly, the US is showing as “opposing” the State Owned Enterprises provisions. “Favouring” them are Vietnam and Malaysia. The article doesn’t elaborate on the TPP text being “opposed” by the US but you can guess that, if Vietnam and Malaysia are “Favouring” it, it is because it preserves the rights of sovereign states to prop up State Owned Enterprises. And then on medicine patent rights, again, the US opposes whatever the TPP is asking for and Malaysia is favouring it. One can surmise that the US wants enhanced patent protection, Malaysia wants to churn out cheap generics, the TPP is, guessing, being drafted to favour “free trade” (shock ! horror ! TPP in genuine trade liberalisation move !) but that’s against US big pharma interests so the US is getting stroppy.

    The pretty clear subtext of this Japanese newspaper feature is, this is supposed to be an agreement – a negotiation. If a negotiation stalls, it’s because of intransigence on behalf of one or more parties. Let’s count the flags of the countries who have gone along with things in the TPP proposal… Look-ee there, there’s two Japanese flags. Let’s count the flags of the countries who are opposing things… that’s two – yes, dear Asahi Shinbun readers, T-W-O please note – star spangled banners. So don’t blame us (Japan). It doesn’t actually come right out and hit readers on the head with that editorial, but, in classic Japanese passive aggressive fashion, it is, by the standards of Japanese journalism, sticking a chop stick up Uncle Sam’s behind.

    Shortform: Japan to the US “If this is supposed to be a negotiation, be prepared to come and negotiate. You’ll put stuff in the TPP we don’t like. If you expect Asia to swallow it, you’d better be prepared to have to accept things you’re not too keen on. If you don’t, then it’ll be a case of Yankee Go Home from some countries. PS. If it all ends in tears, Japan is completely blameless, it’s all those other countries at fault.”

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes, very much appreciated!

      The Japanese are masters of bureaucratic stonewalling. If they don’t want to do something, they either won’t do it or it will get done in such a watered-down manner as to be tantamount to not doing it. But they will be hugely polite and feign cooperation very credibly.

      1. Banger

        I lived in Japan for several years. I found that they expect you to “get” what they are saying in body language and the number of drawn in breaths. They are not really being deceptive but are strongly motivated to not embarrass you by publicly contradicting you. They are often amazed at how “thick” Americans are by missing the message. If you become friends, of course, they can be pretty forthcoming.

    2. susan the other

      Really interesting, Clive. Also I saw on NHK World last night that Japan has now discontinued their rice subsidies to their rice farmers. Pretending, it seems, that rice no longer needs to be subsidized in this high tech world, but I’m pretty sure the Japanese are conceding agriculture trade rights simply because their products are beginning to glow in the dark. It would serve them right if the ocean level rises so that California’s Imperial Valley is the new rice bed of the world, fed with a brackish mixture of ocean strontium and Sierra cesium.

    3. Christopher Rogers


      Its a shame about not getting a detailed Japanese input into their actual views on TPP, good news is, being based in Hong Kong and active in Tokyo, I have good connections in Academia, Banking, Euro-US diplomatic circles and a few Ministry of Trade connections, as well as good media direct connections, both expats and japanese locals. Worth having a scout around this and seeing if can get an handle on this and get info back to Yves or Lambert – I’d offer to write the piece myself, but usually consider my efforts “crap” if not subbed correctly.

      Anyway, suffice to say, this agreement bypasses Hong Kong funnily enough due to it now being part of of China – i.e., under the Basic Law HK cannot enter into international agreements as an independent nation, so much to inquire about. I’ve got time on my hands and will see what I can come up with over the next few days.

      1. Clive

        Will try ! TPP coverage comes in fits and starts in Japan, if something breaks I’ll add a comment to a vaguely relevant article. Thanks to NC for its continued focus on TPP.

  5. from Mexico

    That’s a really great interview.

    Given the egregious behavior of our so-called betters, it’s a real challenge to describe these things without coming off shrill or overdramatic, but you manage to pull it off. So my hat goes off to you.

    The subtext of the first part of the show is that many important things don’t really happen on the national level anymore, They happen on the supranational or transnational level, and its actors are not accountable to popular sovereignty. It is a markedly anti-democratic form of governance.

    Here’s an interview of Immanuel Wallerstein describing his world systems analysis, done by a Brazilian TV station, which provides some discussion on the larger theoretical framework in which all this is occuring:

    The lead is in Portuguese, but don’t be put off because the interview itself is in English.

  6. Martin Elsbach

    I refused to subscribe to the NYTimes but did sunscribe to the crossword puzzle. I have done the puzzle since I was a child. I cancelled that a few years ago when I got totally disgusted with their “news”. It’s strictly a propaganda organ.

    1. Jackrabbit

      I, too, was a life-long reader until about a year ago when it become all too evident that the Times was too cozy with the Obama Administration. That REALLY got to me is that they really haven’t reformed since they were disgraced by their Iraq reporting.

      Now I look to the Times (when I look at all) only for signals of Administration intent. They -TRY- oh-so-hard to cover their tracks by mentioning other views and providing some alternative stories. But when you know what to look for:
      a)how prominient the story;
      b) what is mainly being “sold” or disparaged;
      c) when the story appears;
      d) what is NOT being said;
      then you can often get at how the TPTB/Administration is trying to bend the narrative.

      This is what MSM has become. An exerciese in reading tea leaves.

      1. Banger

        I use the same skill in “reading” the American mainstream media including the NYT as I used in reading the old Soviet press–they have become remarkably similar–including the airbrushing out of history routine.

  7. susan the other

    That was a great interview with Shearer. The stuff about the TPP. Generic drugs and movie copyrights always tell me that this free trade is pure protectionism. But whatever. Question – if countries cannot subsidize their corporations with tariffs, can they still subsidize them with tax subsidies? There is not a single corporation in the US that does not make its profits from tax subsidies. And, proportionally, it gives almost nothing back. Are we trying to export this scheme? In these exposes (sorry no accent), we do not hear the details of the mandate of the trade tribunals and their code of ethics. I suspect they have no code of ethics at all – which should be a serious point of concern. Where is the mandate for legal action? Sovereignty has been eviscerated. Where is the ethic? If it does not exist, the treaties will die in a drought of anger, in all its forms. Our corporations will never, never survive.

    1. susan the other

      Just a note about movie rights. This has been going on since the 40s. France has been countering US movies this long, and successfully because they do such interesting and good movies. Back in the 40s the US overwhelmed Europe with the Marshall Plan but the French movie industry kept us at bay by using their own technology – that of the original cinematographers – their own Lumiere brothers. Our Cinemascope patents, and things like Surroundsound, etched into their industry but they stayed competitive with the sheer poetry of their productions. So now, 70 years later, we are still advancing this onslaught. Isn’t it time to just back off? At some point, American capitalist aggression becomes so offensive that nobody is in favor of it.

  8. EmilianoZ

    A few questions/remarks:

    1) Is secrecy standard procedure in such negociations or is it unprecedented? Was NAFTA negociated in the open?

    2) The French cultural exception is not about French movies competing in the American market through a handful of artsy-fartsy NYC theaters. It’s about Hollywood getting a bigger share in the French movie market. As is, French moviegoers still go to see a fair amount of their own French movies. Hollywood hopes that with the end of subsidies, the French movie industry will collapse and French moviegoers will have no other options than American movies. And it’s not only about movie subsidies. For instance, there was a time when French radio stations had to program a certain proportion of French songs, I think. I don’t know if that law still exists. You could argue that the French entertainment market is not that big but some other countries also protect their homegrown cultural production.

    3) India doesn’t seem to be part of any planned trade treaty, so the Chinese are not alone.

    1. savedbyirony

      i don’t know what you are trying to suggested/(spin) with, “negotiated in the open” but NAFTA was definitely covered extensively in the press for years before it was passed. And members of Congress were allowed to both read it’s ongoing developments and speak about them in public. Are you suggesting that the treatment of the TPP approximates anything like what should happen in a “trade agreement” befitting an actually functioning representative Republic? What are we going to be subjected to? The suggestion that all this secrecy is necessary because of the threat of “terrorists”? Or that the general American people and business/public interests not sitting at the privilaged and hidden negotiating tables have no stakes in the TPP and have no rights to participate?

  9. Bunk McNulty

    I cribbed the stats from Don Quijones’ “Global Corporatocracy” article for my letter to the editorial page editor of the Times. Y’all can, too:

    The editorial entitled “A Pacific Trade Deal” in the Nov. 5 issue appears to have as its sole source the Obama Administration. If ever there was an issue that calls for aggressive reporting this is it, since its proceedings are swaddled in secrecy. What we do know about the TPP is that it is being formulated by and for large international corporations. According to a ranking published by Global Trends, 58 percent of the world’s biggest 150 economic entities in 2012 were corporations. They include oil, natural gas and mining majors, banks and insurance firms, telecommunications giants, supermarket behemoths, car manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies. These are the entities that will benefit from the TPP. The deal’s goal is not free trade but the diminishment of national sovereignty. Any person or organization that supports TPP is therefore actively seeking to weaken American national sovereignty. I believe such activity is called “treason,” and the Times is abetting it by giving editorial approval to TPP’s passage.

  10. Teejay

    When I read your remarks at the top, Terry Gross’ “Fresh Air”
    show came to mind. She’s fascinating to listen to, has a great radio voice (“This is Fresh Air”), covers an eclectic
    subject matter and always comes prepared with thought provoking questions. I’m cesslessly amazed at the breadth of her knowledge. I’m totally addicted to her show. If she’s on I’m interested in. I’ll send her a note.

  11. Kim Kaufman

    What I especially like about Yves being on Harry Shearer show is it plays to a completely different audience than Yves would normally be heard on.

    1. savedbyirony

      Surely the TPP must be another area, like banking, that the vast majority of Americans would hate. (Put the TPP infornt of the average TPers and mention how Obama is both pushing it and keeping it covered-up, and then watch them go to work!) I’ve never in my life watched a Fox news show, but is the overt right-wing media covering this at all? True, why in their world would they? But this must yet be another issue that if actually presented widely and well to the American people would be a great unifier of the masses to work together for a change.

  12. warren swil

    The New York Times editorial is “mysterious” … that’s what I’m calling it on my blog In the (K)now.
    It’s mysterious because it comes out of nowhere. I searched the NYT database and they have done virtually NO reporting on the topic in the past year.
    This is extraordinary.
    Where did they get the facts from?
    Inquiring minds want to know.
    I am blogging this at 0111 GMT, 0300 PST.
    Thank you Yves for fascinating work on the TPP. It is invaluable.

  13. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for doing this interview with Harry Shearer, Yves, and for providing the link. Listened to both segments this evening and feel well rewarded for the time spent.

    It is self evident that the TPP and TTIP agreements that are being secretly negotiated by the Obama Administration and their bank and corporate handlers without Congressional or public knowledge of their terms will transfer enormous power from our government to large banks and corporations if Congress gives them “Fast Track” approval. That the signatories of these agreements will be able to keep the terms secret for four years to avoid public outrage is particularly abhorrent and telling as to who the losers will be if they are given such blanket approval by Congress. The potential magnitude of those losses, immunity from national laws and regulations, and a carte blanche transfer of power are of grave concern.

    Thank you, too, for the segment on JPM and their CEO. I learned a lot more about matters that I thought I knew something about and wish we had not been subjected to.

  14. RBHoughton

    I don’t know how you do it Yves. No anger, no hatred, just objective reporting. I listened-in initially for the TPP stuff but the JP Morgan expose afterwards was even more important. I know what to look for now. Thanks

    There’s a little chap in Hong Kong bowing in your direction.

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