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Hillary Clinton On The Daily Show Promotes Standard Elite Narrative

11:40 pm in Uncategorized by BrandonJ


Hillary Clinton had a lengthy conversation with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show last Wednesday. Clinton promoted her latest book, Hard Choices, which she wrote to “pull the curtain back so people could get an idea on what we were doing in the world.”

Stewart brought up Clinton’s never-ending tale of whether she will run for president in two years. On July 18th, Gallup found 84 percent of Democrats favored her as a presidential candidate. However, Clinton avoided the discussion with a joke on making her announcement on another show. In fact, when Stewart told Clinton an announcement could end the media circus on if she will run, Clinton responded by saying it would pose a problem for those writing and talking about it.

“I think a lot of people would lose their jobs if it all stopped,” she joked.

Throughout the interview, Clinton made some notable comments on the state of domestic and international politics.

One issue she focused on was the decline of economic opportunities young people today face compared with previous generations. She stated more should be done to help disillusioned youths as her generation received benefits from a more committed government.

“I think that people do not feel [government will help them] and I feel that we have to change our political and economic system,” she said.

Stewart referred to this as structural problems, which Clinton agreed with as she nodded. She blamed it on two problems: an ineffective Congress and an executive branch struggling to adjust to contemporary times.

“What I saw going to 112 countries is how important it is we function in the United States because people look up to us. Our system has been the beacon [for other countries] for so many years,” Clinton said.

Clinton spoke on the “ancient history” of the U.S. “liberating” Europe from the Nazis during World War II. The values of  this effort was something the current generation of youths would not understand, which affected their view on what the U.S. represents. The “great story” the U.S. had was not being told well. She agreed there were negatives in the history of the United States, but felt proud of the country’s rich history.

Salon journalist Daniel D’Addario highlighted an interesting comment Clinton made during her interview with Stewart:

The most revealing remark Clinton made in the interview, which she quickly qualified, was that ‘we did a much better job telling the world who we were during the Cold War.’ It was both startling for its candid nostalgia — do we really want to go back there? — and apt.

Clinton elaborated on this comment on the impact American culture had worldwide, which assisted in the message of the United States. She contrasted this to present-day issues where she offered the situation in Ukraine as an example and told Stewart Russian media was “much more effective” in its narrative. She did note it was a narrative that was misleading, yet effective nonetheless.

Her reference of the Cold War as a simpler time where U.S. hegemony was respected seems over-simplistic. It was difficult to believe her since her comments on the situation in Gaza were typical talking points from any other politician in Washington: it’s Hamas’s fault, Israel is justified, there are deaths in Gaza, etc. She spoke for around 10 minutes on Israel-Palestine, but it was nothing different from comments from mainstream news outlets.

Russian writer and a dissenter of the former Soviet Union, Roy Medvedev, perhaps highlights what the current American political system represents in his book, On Socialist Democracy:

If in capitalist countries the bourgeoisie generates and supports not one but as a rule two or more political parties, this is by no means simply to pull wool over the eyes of the ‘workers and peasants.’ The existence of two major parties in the United States reflects the fact that there are different political trends and opinions within the ruling circles of the country. Moreover, conflict between those two parties helps to promote the most capable politicians and administrators, highly proficient in their defense of the interests of capitalist society.

Clinton’s appearance on The Daily Show obviously showed her interests in running in the 2016 presidential elections and her comments accomplished the job of showing her as a legitimate source on domestic and foreign policy. Whoever runs as the candidates for the Democrats and the Republicans will not make massive changes to the political system.

What Clinton represents can best be found in journalist Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield. In fact, what he wrote last year is still relevant and will definitely be relevant two years from now.

Scahill writes, on President Barack Obama’s “foreign policy team,” that it was filled with “hawkish Democrats” such as Joseph Biden, Susan Rice, Richard Holbrooke, and Hillary Clinton. In addition, President Obama added former Bush officials to bolster his foreign policy vision.

“All of these figures had a track record of support for military interventions, neoliberal economic policies and worldview consistent with the foreign policy arc that stretched from George H.W. Bush’s time in office to the present,” he wrote.

The reaction from the right-wing at the time was one of praise and Max Boot, a “neoconservative leader and former McCain campaign staffer,” felt surprised by the decision.

“I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily come from a President McCain.” Boot added that Hillary Clinton would be a “powerful” voice for “for ‘neoliberalism’ which is not so different in many respects from ‘neoconservativism.’”

Her appearance on The Daily Show was interesting, but it indicated she would not present anything unique to the public debate. Until 2016 happens, the media game of whether or not she will run continues as current issues are not critically analyzed.

New Report Exposes World Labor Standards

8:58 pm in Uncategorized by BrandonJ

Around 2,000 protesters marched outside McDonald’s headquarters during their shareholders meeting in Oak Brook, Illinois to demand better pay and living standards for employees. The demonstration featured the Fight for 15 demands raised in cities like Seattle and the right to form a union.

Fight For 15 written in lighted signs at a protest

A new labor report shows US workers face systematic abuses of their rights.

Oak Brook police arrested 149 people in total, despite it being a peaceful demonstration. Mary Kay Henry, International President of the Service Employees International Union, applauded the efforts of the police even though she was among those who protested.

While the protest forced executives from McDonald’s to vacate their headquarters, CEO Don Thompson said the following day to shareholders McDonald’s workers were offered not only “real careers” but also “competitive wages.”

A new report by the International Trade Union Confederation highlighted such harsh labor standards not only in the U.S. but also throughout the world. From a scale of 1, which means “irregular violations of rights,” to 5+, which means “no guarantee of rights due to the breakdown of the rule of law,” the ITUC uncovered how labor is treated in both developed and developing countries.

The ITUC was founded in 2006 after a merger between the World Confederation of Labor and the International Conference of Free Trade Union. It represents millions of workers worldwide and, as they state, they primarily aim to promote and defend “workers’ rights and interests, through international cooperation between trade unions, global campaigning and advocacy within the major global institutions.” Its headquarters operates in Brussels, Belgium.

The report was titled the “Global Rights Index” and its purpose is to put “abusive governments and companies on notice that the international trade union movement stands in solidarity with workers who are denied fundamental rights.”

The worst places in the world for workers to work will be exposed and the ITUC will demand change, demand decent jobs. Global solidarity in support of countries where here are no rights, inadequate laws or effective labour market institutions will garner the support of trade unions around the world to rectify this situation. Governments and business that allow or perpetrate oppression of workers cannot hide.

The report, conducted over the course of a year, found the most frequent violation of worker rights was when workers participated in strike. Joining unions and calling for a strike were also problems in numerous countries with different standards applied.

In total, eight countries received a 5+ rating with a few notable countries like Syria, Ukraine, Palestine, Libya and South Sudan.

The United States received a rating of 4, which means there are “systemic violations of rights.” Other countries that received a 4 include Iraq, Mexico, Pakistan, Yemen, Iran and Argentina. Countries with a lower rating include Brazil and the United Kingdom at 3, Switzerland and Spain at 2 and South Africa and Germany at 1.

Russia, framed as public enemy number one in mainstream outlets, received a 2. This does not mean Russia is a better place for workers as 60 workers died in constructing for the Sochi Olympics, but it is not as bad as in the United States.

Recently, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, won the first-ever ITUC World’s Worst Boss poll. Other American CEOs nominated in the poll included JPMorgan Chase CEO Jaime Dimon, Koch Industries CEO Charles Koch, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein and Wal-Mart CEO C. Douglas McMillon. Sharan Burrow, ITUC general secretary, explained the significance of this vote:

Jeff Bezos represents the inhumanity of employers who are promoting the American corporate model. The message to big business is back off, you are not going to mistreat workers, Burrow said.

For a company that patented pictures with a white backdrop, Amazon is no stranger to labor disputes with its workers. The Supreme Court recently took up Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Buck which primarily deals with overtime pay not given to Amazon workers. The Supreme Court will make its decision next year, but other companies are alarmed by this push-back by workers as In These Times journalist Bruce Vail cited it may have repercussions beyond Amazon:

The case has attracted the attention of pro-business lobby groups, which often fight interpretations of the FLSA that would lead to an expansion of overtime pay. The Retail Litigation Center, the Society for Human Resources Management, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers filed a joint amicus brief in the case in favor of denying additional wage payments to the workers.

But this is an issue beyond the corporate sphere with the federal government also to blame. Michael Grabell of ProPublica provided excellent coverage of the weakness of temporary worker protection laws. Moreover, he references “permatemp,” which means  ”hiring a temp for years to do the same job permanent employees do, but without the benefits and protections.”

The easy abuse of temp workers by companies looking to reduce costs surely was a factor contributing to the rating.

Yet critics would call the U.S. a haven for workers to work in. Forbes contributor Jeffrey Dorfman stated, due to higher labor productivity and average wage, the U.S. is a friendlier place for workers than in Europe. He elaborated what this data holds for workers in the U.S.:

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