Monday, June 22, 2015

Fast Track Zero Hour

(*updated below.)

Never having met an idea or a lower House vote for the public good that it couldn't crush through sheer inertia, corruption, stealth, or just a flick of its contemptuous middle finger at the body politic, the United States Senate will once again try to give President Obama authority to fast-track democracy into permanent oblivion.

Zero Hour begins on Tuesday, June 23, at approximately 11 a.m. President Obama probably won't need to make a personal desperate appearance this time.  Neither will the mass media. The pundits are too busy analyzing and marveling at how casually and boldly he was able to say "nigger" while they make their squeamish PC excuses about why they can't allow us to actually hear him say "nigger" on TV. "Nigger" might be a trigger.... it might remind viewers that the secretive TPP is actually a deal for a resurgence of the slave trade -- among its many other abominations.

A typical deflection/distraction, broadcast by The Terror Channel, (aka CNN)  whose programming is sponsored by the same voracious multinationals dictating the secret terms of the corporate coup trade packages:

 While it's grand that they're talking about finally retiring the Confederate flag in Dixie, the rest of the globe's population will watch in horror and disbelief as the plutocrats turn the planet into one great big toxic plantation.... if Obama and his plutopals get their way. For some reason, the president thinks "Obamatrade" is a legacy to be proud of. The realization that he is a right-wing free market ideologue, and always has been, is slowly beginning to dawn even on some of his biggest fans.

So he chose last week to schmooze with a comedian about race. It's the politics of mass distraction. The post-racial president comes out of his closet and boldly suggests that racism is still in our DNA -- a statement which, by the way, sickeningly dog-whistles the racist right wing ideology (biology is destiny) of Charles Murray, whether Obama meant it that way or not.

But the centrist punditocracy celebrates his refreshing honesty and bravery even as he displays the most egregious dishonesty and subterfuge about the TPP. His administration has even threatened to prosecute any member of Congress who divulges its details to the public.

  Sorry, but you don't get to call yourself anti-racist or liberal, and then not speak out against the TPP.  It's just as white-supremacist as the hate group that inspired the Charleston massacre. It supports the Malaysian human trafficking cartel and perpetuates labor abuses against Asian people making 40 cents an hour in sweatshops, and family farmers eking out a bare bones existence both here and abroad. The TPP will off-shore more American jobs and further depress American wages and have an adverse economic affect on already oppressed Black and Latino Americans. It's a de facto acceleration of global slavery -- which has its roots not in bigotry, but in greed and unfettered capitalism.

  So as reader Valerie urges, call your Dinosaurs one more time and tell them so. Remind them that as the populist climate heats up, those electoral extinctions sure have a strange way of occurring without warning. A list of their phone numbers is here.

Video accompaniment is here.

*Update, 6/23: The Senate advanced Trade Promotion Authority (fast-track), 60-37. The same Democratic quislings who'd voted for it previously -- Michael Bennet (D-Colo), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) -- were not swayed by the wishes and demands of their putative constituents, aka The Little People, to change their minds. With any luck, they will go down in electoral history as The Unlucky Thirteen.

"It's a great day for the big money interests, not a great day for working families."  -- Bernie Sanders, democratic socialist of Vermont.

"Occasionally, even President Obama gets things right." -- John Cornyn, Republican of Texas.

Now the Democrats, Obama included, can pretend to fight for the regular folk by throwing  a few extra crumbs to a couple displaced workers. (Trade Adjustment Assistance) The Republicans will pretend to balk, but in the end each side will embrace slavery and plutocracy. 

The silver lining is that once Obama completes his deal, we will have an actual opportunity to see it. Hell will hopefully break loose. So we should keep up the pressure. Another silver lining is that 11 other countries also have to approve this travesty. A lot of their citizens (notably in Australia, Canada and Japan) are less than enchanted with it, too. The battle against neoliberalism is global, because neoliberalism itself is global. Individual nation-states are rapidly becoming superfluous to the interests of capital.


Jay–Ottawa said...

Moments ago TPP survived a Senate vote and should be on Obama’s desk by Wednesday evening. On K Street, unconfirmed reports of drownings from the tsunami of champagne.

Meredith NYC said...

Karen.....thanks for excellent post. Obama should stay away from DNA talk. Racism is deeply embedded in our culture, not DNA.

Re TPP..... You say citizens in Canada, Australia, Japan are less than enchanted with TPP? Any more info is welcome.

I the other countries in TPP also keep its contents secret? On Ed Schultz show today, Larry Cohen, anti TPP labor official said something like the other 12 countries ( or is it 9?) get to read their TPP agreement details. Is this true? Couldn't find anything on it.
Canada and Australia---how is TPP going in their parliaments and media?

btw on msnbc, Chris Matthews seems to be the only 1 favoring TPP---to compete with China, or something.


Andrew Rosenthal has op ed blog re some senators’ excuses re the SC flag being part of ‘who we are.’ Lindsay Graham, etc.

I commented....(not published yet)

Germany bans he Nazi flag. So Germany’s politicians could say the Nazi flag can be seen as part of 'who we are.' That it represents both pride and defeat for a substantial segment of our population ---those who respect a German race that’s pure and untainted by foreign blood with a different ancestry.

It symbolizes what they think was once the strongest, most superior people on earth, taking pride in how it invincibly subdued the European continent. Who ruled by strength, not weak parliaments. And who by that view had contempt for the democracies of the world who don’t know how to properly wield power, so let themselves be diluted and compromised by inferiors.

This view thinks if they’d had enough of the right kind of weapons for every soldier and every civilian, they might have stayed unconquered.
And if the noble confederate troops had more weapons, they might have won over the North.

And if now the American public has enough guns in daily possession, they can defend themselves against massacres.
Or some such nonsense.

Also Democracy Now today has on David Goodman, brother of Andrew Goodman, murdered with Schwerner and Chaney by the Klan during the ‘60s, trying to register blacks to vote in Miss. ....discussing the Conf and US flags.

Pearl said...

TPP trade talks too secret, NDP MP Don Davies says

The Conservative Party is keeping any information about the TPP secret but the NDP has already criticized its purpose.

Valerie said...

I am incredibly saddened but not surprised about this outcome. So many of our senators and representatives have whored themselves out to the multinationals who will benefit so greatly from this treaty. I wondered, when the stock market didn't blip the first time the TPP failed to pass in the House, if the multinationals knew they had so many of our elected officials in their pocket they would eventually win.

Those in power are counting on our apathy and weariness in the face of battle. They are also counting on the public's short attention span. It is a re call to arms for those of us who understand the relevance of this treaty and the damage it will do to the Middle and Working classes to say nothing of the poorest people in the world. We must demand that the TPP be made public and demand that our newspapers carry the story. We must work against those senators and House members who voted for the treaty and replace them with REAL advocates of democracy - as opposed to the advocates of plutocracy who voted for it.

In short, we must continue to "Fight the good fight."

Thank you, Karen, for your determination to report on this issue.

Jay–Ottawa said...

With respect to the text of the TPP, corporate demands for secrecy continue and apply to all countries. So you see, the supranational rules of our corporate overlords are already in effect and trump nation states’ presumed need to know in advance about what we're "being agreed to."

Thanks to Canadians' more conservative swing in the last election, Prime Minister Stephen Harper now commands a majority in Parliament. He need not negotiate with the Liberals (they follow him like a puppy anyway) or the NDP (New Democratic Party), which puts up some resistance. Harper can pass any bill he pleases and he likes the TPP.

It is likely that no one anywhere has seen the full text of the TPP. It doesn’t exist. The corporate cabal is still tuning and retuning drafts depending on the noise from the street of all likely signatories. However, the lack of a settled and final version didn’t stop the US Congress from approving fast track blindly. Hey, if you can’t trust the corporations who funded your way into political office, whom can you trust?

Wikileaks, the international paper of record, has since 2013 published three important sections of the TPP that were thrown over the transom. In the last published section we learned that the full text of the "agreement" will continue to be kept secret from the proles until four years after TPP becomes operational. Karen wrote about the 2015 dump a few weeks ago.

Valerie said...

I can only speak to the Australian part of your question, Meredith.

Australians consider themselves "the lucky country," especially after dodging the Great Recession and they genuinely believe that their government is working in their best interest. They vaguely realise that a huge chunk of the manufacturing has been shipped overseas but the mining boom (which is now winding down) has cushioned the worst of this reality for most of the middle and working classes in Australia - and thanks to free trade they can now buy a lot of stuff cheaper than before. Real estate has continued to go up and those who "bought in" ten or fifteen years ago feel that they are quite well off, far better than their parents were at their age. I cannot tell you what a deja vu it is to be living in Australia right now.

When I try to talk to the average Australian citizen about the TPP, they haven't heard of it and really don't seem to concerned. China and other developing countries buy our wine and our minerals, we buy their clothing and electronics - free trade is good.

However, there are a few people who are waking up and realising the TPP isn't the average trade deal. The ABC (our PBS) has reported on the ISDS and the Sydney Morning Herald (our NYT)has reported mostly about the dangers of the TPP - mainly that Big Pharma is going to ruin our health system and the ISDS. Andrew Robb, our Minister of Trade and our Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, are talking heads for the TPP - neither strike me as being very intelligent. However, our Labour Party is like the Democratic Party in the States - also very "pro business" so not a lot of help from that front.

I think Australia might wake up. Obama is protecting sugar and beef from the TPP so a lot of pro TPP people from both industries are saying, "What's in it for Australia?"
Also, fear of Big Pharma and the ISDS. The other issue that is not talked about very much is Australia is very much into the "buy Australia" meme. The idea that we can't go into our grocery store and find out where the apples come from, Australia or China, is a big deal to Australians. Ironically, there is a lot of talk in Parliament that ALL our foods should be labelled to show how much of a product actually is grown in Australia - as opposed to grown elsewhere and packaged in Australia.

As for the secret text of the TPP - it is secret here as well. In fact, I would wager not that many parliamentarians have actually been able to read the treaty. The secrecy of it IS something that is starting to ring alarm bells amongst Australians as well. We DO have a couple of parliamentarians speaking against the TPP but no one like Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown.

The more people know about the TPP - the more it sees the light of day - the better it will be for Australia.

valerie said...

Good article in the Guardian about Australia and concerns about the TPP. My favourite senator, Nick Xenophon is in the middle fighting for the ordinary Australian. Nothing new in terms of information - just giving you a view from Down Under.

Ste-vo said...

"President Obama’s ambitious trade push is back on track, after several near-death moments, in large measure because top Republicans stood by him." The opening paragraph, no sentence, from the Top Stories section of the NYT, 6.24.15. I am dumbstruck. There are some other insightful comments - spot on really, calling out Mr. Obama and his cabal of Senate Democrats for the contemptuous people that they are. i for on keep going back to Kevin Philips prescient book, "American Theocracy" and the wonderful writing of Jane Jacobs in "Dark Age Ahead." Like the Romans and the Brits, the necessary things leading to our demise are falling nicely into place.

Karen Garcia said...


Japanese rice farmers have been organizing and protesting the TPP for years.

Pearl said...

Today I received a request for a donation to Ron Wyden's (D. Oregon)website. Seeing him on the list of senators who supported the fast track and TPP plans, and finding a contact space, I told him why I and others would not support him. I am surprised at his position as Oregon is usually quite progressive.

I hope he will hear from other constituents.

The Black Swan said...

I'm ashamed to live Washington State. I might have even voted for Cantwell or Murray when I was younger. It's disgusting. I emailed and called my Senators and Rep and got nothing but nearly identical memos. The NYTimes comment section is nuts. People are very angry with the Democrats, and especially with Obama. All hell is going to break loose when they have to release the draft to the public 60 days before the final vote.

Karen, great comments and great article.

Valerie said...

Black Swan

Not so sure about the releasing the draft to the public 60 days before the final vote. It is my understanding they won't release the treaty to the public for 4 years after it is signed.

Karen? Can you weigh in on this?

Karen Garcia said...

My understanding is that the four-year secrecy rule applies to the chapter on investment state dispute resolutions (the part that allows multinationals to usurp national judiciaries and extract from national treasuries any "lost profits" resulting from, for instance, laws forbidding the sale of tobacco products to Malaysian children.)

More here:

I am sure that once "we" are allowed to see the text, it will contain numerous redactions of this for nashnual securiteh poipuses. After all the TPP is an act of economic/military aggression against China as well as against the proles, both here and abroad,