Gordon Campbell on Tim Groser and the Wrecking Crew

At times, a protest march can feel like a futile political tactic, but at least afterwards… Trade Minister Tim Groser can always be relied on to put his foot in his mouth. The weekend’s turnout of thousands – in Auckland in wet weather – was no exception. In his comments afterwards, Groser not only came out with a goofy line about the alleged need for TPP secrecy – “Discretion is the handmaiden of progress” – but then proceeded to slag off the thousands of concerned New Zealanders as being either fools, hysterics, or professional agitators. If this is how Groser conducts his negotiations, no wonder Japan is blaming New Zealand for the fact the TPP talks in Maui ended in deadlock.

The government is also running the line that those same hard core anti-TPP protesters have opposed every single trade deal that New Zealand has entered. This is willfully deceptive in that it assumes the TPP is a free trade deal – when in reality, several of its most noxious provisions are anti-trade in that they entrench existing corporate advantage.

Also, regular protest is necessary because successive “trade” pacts have included the same objectionable elements for well over 20 years. Almost identical investor-state dispute settlement mechanisms (which enable corporations to sue sovereign governments when they pass laws that infringe on profit expectations) have cropped up in mooted trade deals ever since the MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Trade) proposals in the 1990s. Eventually, the MAI was defeated by a mass mobilization around the world very similar to the anti-TPP protests today. It can be done.

Groser doesn’t get it. The reason why so many people consistently oppose “free” trade deals like the TPP is that they consistently include anti-trade and anti-democratic measures of dubious legality. If we’re consistently marching it is because the likes of Groser consistently ignore public expressions of concern, and consistently refuse to engage in substantive debate about what is on the table.

The ludicrous claim that discretion is necessary in order to protect the negotiations from lobbyists is obviously false – given that there is ample evidence that the detail of the negotiations is routinely shared with corporate lobbyists. Here’s the evidence of the free interchange of information about the TPP details that routinely occurs with such favoured people.

Does Groser really expect us to believe that Fonterra boss John Wilson, DairyNZ chairman John Luxton, Dairy Companies Association chairman Malcolm Bailey and Federated Farmers Dairy president Andrew Hoggard were kept entirely in the dark in Maui about the details of the dairy offers being made by Canada and Japan? Somehow, I don’t think those guys were left sitting in the hotel lobby at the Westin trying to prise information out of passing media and the negotiating teams from other countries. And if they can be told, why can’t we?

Groser could easily be more forthcoming about the details still in contention. What is the balance of costs and gains on the TPP currently looking like for New Zealand? Ultimately, democracy is about trust – and neither of them flourish in the dark.
Carol, Carol Kaye

Not everyone who saw the Wrecking Crew documentary screened at this year’s film festival may have been aware of the conflict between the makers of the film and some of the musicians depicted in it. The great bass player and music teacher Carol Kaye – who is in the film, and who was also depicted in the Brian Wilson biopic Love and Mercy – has been highly critical of it.

You can find her objections all over the Net, including in the comments section on Amazon for Kent Hartman’s book The Wrecking Crew. Kaye’s criticisms include: that the film focusses unduly and inaccurately on drummer Hal Blaine and on the director’s father Tommy Tedesco ; that the term “ Wrecking Crew” was never used at the time and is a marketing invention by Blaine ; and that the session musicians in question were never a unit, but were a large mass of 60 or more disparate musicians etc…

Kaye, now 80, is still going strong as a music teacher/writer and all round inspiration. Down the years, she played innovatively with the cream of jazz talent in the 1950s and 1960s, provided the bass pulse for hits for everyone from Sam Cooke to Phil Spector to the Righteous Brothers to Simon and Garfunkel and Sonny and Cher to the Monkees to the early Frank Zappa albums, besides a myriad of movie soundtracks. Kaye’s detailed account of her role (and that of others) in the making of Pet Sounds and Smile is well worth reading.

Her appraisal of Brian Wilson (both as a person and as a musical genius) is fascinating, and full of a generosity of spirit that suggests her objections to the Wrecking Crew film are not based on self-aggrandizement. (She’s also good on stressing the importance of the great session drummer Earl Palmer, a far more capable and innovative musician than Blaine. That’s Earl Palmer on Ritchie Valens’ hit “La Bamba. ” And Kaye as well. )

Finally, here’s a charming live version of a tribute song to Carol Kaye written by the singer/songwriter Laura Veirs. ( Other Veirs songs such as “Parisian Dream” “Magnetised” “Icebound Stream”, and “My Little Lap Dog” among others, are also worth checking out.)

Footnote : here’s a link to a long and fascinating history lesson with Kaye demonstrating on her bass the evolution of different bass styles in big band jazz, bebop, funk, rock and Latin.

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