RSS

Monthly Archives: October 2016

Notes on the TPP.

The TPP was written in complete secrecy by corporate CEOs and their lawyers, along with official governmental trade negotiators, over a five year period. The trade negotiator for the US is Michael Froman. He served in the Treasury Dept under Bob Rubin within the Clinton administration, during which time the Glass-Steagall Act was overturned, leading directly to the conditions giving rise to the economic meltdown years later.  After that gig, he and Rubin both went to work for Citigroup (big bank and hedge fund a-go-go). In 2013, he became our trade negotiator. I mention this because it’s relevant that our trade negotiator is a big bank guy who worked for one of the banks that helped tank the economy in ’08.

Obama signed the TPP in Feb. this year, as did all the leaders of the 12 signatory nations. None of them, however, has gotten the deal ratified in their countries yet; i.e., the TPP has not been passed through the parliaments or Congresses of any of the 12 nations yet and so has not legally gone into effect.

They have 2 years to ratify the TPP. If it isn’t ratified by Feb 2018, they can put it into force with only 6 countries participating, if the GDP of those 6 countries combined equals 85% of the GDP of the original 12 countries.

The TPP includes an ISDS [investor-state dispute settlement] mechanism. This clause allows a company to sue a treaty-participating country for monetary damages if local laws affect their business. It does not allow them to make changes to local laws, but it does allow them to sue a government for “damages”. The ISDS is run by a tribunal of 3 judges: all of whom are corporate heads, chosen by a panel of big corporations. It has been pointed out that previous trade agreements with an ISDS clause have pushed participating countries to loosen environmental and labor regulations in an effort to preemptively stave off potential lawsuits under ISDS, thus inherently influencing which laws are passed or altered by signatory countries.  It is the ISDS that ensures an end to our national sovereignty, as if the TPP even without it, weren’t bad enough. Any member of Congress that votes yes for this trade agreement and the president that signs it into law is committing treason, in my opinion.

While the ISDS clause cannot forcibly change US laws, some US laws will need to be changed in order to comply with the TPP itself. Obama had the duty (signed into law with the passage of the “Fast-track” bill; aka the Trade Promotion Authority or TPA) of working with the heads of the various US agencies (Dept of Ag, Commerce Dept, Treasury Dept, OSHA, etc.) to create a list of which laws would need to be altered, and to present this list to Congress at the same time the TPP is formally presented to them for vote. Obama signed an executive order in July handing this duty over to Michael Froman (our trade representative). We will find out what laws have been changed if/when Congress votes yes on the TPP. Congress can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on the TPP and its attached list of regulatory changes; they are not allowed to amend, filibuster, debate, add to, delete from, or alter any text at all.

Which means that any politician (like Hillary Clinton and Harry Reid) who suggests that the TPP can “be improved” by Congress before it is passed is lying through his teeth. Congress cannot change a word of the TPP. Any improvements that Congress might want to suggest before they would pass the damned thing would necessitate the renegotiation of the agreement with the other countries. (Congress cannot amend the text themselves, but they might, behind the scene so to speak, suggest changes that would ensure passage.) In other words, if Congress says they want x,y, or z clauses to be changed, the TPP has to be re-presented to all the countries with the alterations and the whole negotiation started over again, with the leaders of these countries having to sign a new agreement and presenting that new one to their parliaments for ratification. Obama wants this thing done before he leaves office, so it’s unlikely he would consider any recommendations from Congress that would cause the TPP to have to go into renegotiation. And when Clinton makes breezy promises to “improve” it when she is the president, she is eliding the fact that any improvements she might want will likewise send the agreement into renegotiation. (Remember, the countries only have 2 years to ratify the TPP through their parliaments, so there is little time to negotiate a new treaty.)

The “fast-track” bill that Congress wrote and passed and that Obama signed into law last year has its own stipulations that the media has chosen to completely ignore. This bill governs how Congress votes on any trade agreements for the next 6 years. It reads that Congress can only vote ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on any of these agreements without debate, alterations, or amendments, as I mentioned above. I also mentioned that it made the president responsible for telling Congress of any changes to our existing laws that have to occur to comply to the agreements (a duty that Obama handed off to Froman).

In case you think I am inventing the idea that some of our laws will require alteration or amendment (or, in fact, to be overturned altogether) with passage of the TPP, it is quite obvious that this is the case, as the Fast-track bill includes these paragraphs:

“if changes in existing laws or new statutory authority are required to implement such trade agreement or agreements, only such provisions as are strictly necessary or appropriate to implement such trade agreement or agreements, either repealing or amending existing laws or providing new statutory authority.[…]”

and:

“within 60 days after entering into the agreement, the President submits to Congress a description of those changes to existing laws that the President considers would be required in order to bring the United States into compliance with the agreement.”

But there are further rules imposed by the fast-track law, and these are overarching requirements for any trade agreement for the next 6 years. Fast-track demands that no trade agreement can discourage or prejudice commercial activity between the US and Israel. It stipulates that trade agreements must discourage movements such as BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) against Israel. This “no-BDS” clause includes everyone; the definition is given thusly:

“Definition.–In this paragraph, the term ‘actions to boycott, divest from, or sanction Israel” means actions by states, non-member states of the United Nations, international organizations, or affiliated agencies of international organizations that are politically motivated and are intended to penalize or otherwise limit commercial relations specifically with Israel or persons doing business in Israel or in Israeli-controlled territories.”

This formal declaration against the BDS movement was included despite the fact that Israel is not a participating country in any of the troika of trade agreements potentially coming up for vote in the near future. [What I call the troika consists of the TTP, the TTIP, and TISA.]

Fast-track also puts an end to any notion that we will ever have the labeling of products like GMOs or nano-technology, as it includes the following, a provision that none of the trade agreements can include:

“unjustified trade restrictions or commercial requirements, such as labeling, that affect new technologies, including biotechnology; […]”

When Obama signed the fast-track bill into law, he also signed the updated TAA (aka the Trade Adjustment Assistance law). This bill acknowledges the fact that trade agreements cost the US millions of jobs and so Congress authorizes funds for the “re-training” of American workers who will need to find new jobs with which to support themselves. The TAA has existed for years, but was set to expire in 2015. Congress reauthorized the bill and increased the funding because they knew that the upcoming TPP would cost jobs. They had to pass the TAA in order to get the fast-track bill passed: Obama demanded both at the same time, as did members of Congress who otherwise opposed the fast-track legislation, specifically because they know the TPP, TTIP, etc. will lead to job losses. Some of them even said so out loud while debating the fast-track and TAA bills – that the TPP will cost the US several million jobs, which is a vast understatement, according to labor experts. In order to pass the TAA re-training bill, Congress scotch-taped it to the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a trade bill supported by the Congressional Black Caucus, to attract more yes votes. In the updated bill, Congress supplied the necessary $950 mm funding (their estimate of the minimum needed for worker re-training if the TPP passes) by cutting Medicare further. They extended the Medicare sequestration reductions – Medicare benefits have been cut repeatedly since Obama took office – through 2024 and reduced reimbursements for Medicare patients who are on dialysis for acute renal failure. If you are one of the Americans qualified to get “re-training” money to help you “upgrade your skills” so you can find a new job at McDonald’s or WalMart after the TPP erases your current job, thank an elderly dialysis patient. Oh, wait, you won’t be able to – they’ll all be dead. And by the way, the amount of money you’ll get from the federal government toward a “re-training” program is $1500. Good luck.

No-one in the media noted that while Congress was talking about how the TPP was a swell idea, so “wonderful” that they wanted (and got) the fast-track bill in order to get the TPP passed as quickly as possible when it comes to a vote, they were admitting within the body of a bill passed at the same exact time as fast-track that the TPP was going to cost US jobs. Obama’s trade-policy advocates say the TPP will create jobs at the same time they say it will cost jobs. Which is it?  According to them (depending on the day of the week and which shill they have talking about it for them that day), it will do both.  Let’s call it the “Vietnam War Theory of Economics and Job Growth”. This new economic theory is that jobs must be lost in order for jobs to be created, and that a “good” trade deal is one that will lead to lost jobs and lower wages, which then must be partially offset by more federal spending for the displaced work force (funded with the tried and true method of simply taking monies from another sector of the public sphere); said pool of “displaced workers” having been created by the government passing the trade agreement in the first place.

And the TPP is what Clinton calls the “gold standard” of trade agreements, at least until she decided she had to lie about her position on it in order to garner votes.  For some reason, we allow our votes to be heavily invested in outright political lies.

The TTIP and TISA, the other two trade agreements currently under negotiation, have the same issues that the TPP does, and while I am not going into the specific details of those two here, if they are signed and brought before Congress, they will also be enacted within the mandates of the fast-track law. Some good information about both can be found on wikipedia, and websites such as publiccitizen.org are doing an outstanding job of reporting on them.

The TPP and the other trade agreements aren’t about trade. Tariffs are already near zero. They are about giving big, multi-national corporations complete control of and power over judicial and legislative decisions in every country, as well as providing unlimited opportunities for corporate cartels to strip money from wages and reduce governmental spending on the commons.

Advertisements
 

Where’s the candidate?

A quick post.  Updated below.

With the election in less than a month, one would think the candidates would be really pushing the fundraisers and personal appearances at rallies, etc. Trump sure as shit is, and has descended so deep into sheer lunacy (despite his recent use of prepared teleprompter speeches; gotta wonder who wrote the latest screeds for him and how much they got paid for that crap) that there can be no doubt he is desperately hoping he loses this ridiculous burlesque.  I have maintained all along that he just wanted to say he could have won (or that he did win, but was cheated out of it), but that he doesn’t really want the job.  At this point, he is saying and doing things that are so outrageously, blindly ignorant for an adult – never mind for an adult running for president – that I stand by my other original belief: he is running not only as a kind of a joke, but to actively help elect Clinton.
He probably grouses to his wife in private (and for the life of me I can’t remember which woman calls herself the wife now – total blank on the name), “Jesus, can’t these idiots tell I want Clinton to have to carry this shitty country into the next decade? Why do they keep coming to these goddamned rallies? What have I got to do – foam at the mouth in public? Whip it out and take a piss right next to the freaking podium?”

But for some reason, Clinton has only one personal appearance scheduled between now and Oct 25th: she will appear at the next debate on Oct. 21. All the other fundraisers, rallies, and events on behalf of the Clinton campaign will feature other speakers. Maybe it’s getting too tedious to hide the fact that no-one shows up at her events. Maybe the poll numbers are so fictitious that they have decided to keep her hidden lest they lose control over the narrative. Maybe the hologram machine is in for repairs.  Maybe the fix is so hard-wired in and the result such a foregone conclusion at this point that there is no need to bother with the pretense any longer.

I can’t tell which of these misanthropes could have legitimately “won” the election, should the thing have not been so managed and manipulated from behind the scenes. The whole thing is so openly full of artifice and sham that no result will be verifiable whatever the “official” tally is. For what it’s worth, I have noticed that here in my state, there are ZERO yard signs for Clinton. I do see yard signs all over for Trump.  I haven’t seen any bumper stickers for either one, however.  I guess nobody supports either candidate enough to commit to a permanent defacement of his car. Yard signs can be tossed in the trash later. In comment sections at other sites, the same thing is noted: no signage for Clinton whatsoever. So who knows? The oligarchs want her in, so that will probably decide the thing.


The only way we would have to judge the validity of any numbers purported to be the election results would be via exit polling on election night, assuming the media is even capable of accurate reporting there. (Snort. The accuracy and truthfulness of the media has gone straight to hell right smartly in the last decade or two).  But the DNC doesn’t want to do exit polling any more.  I’ve never seen such a bullshit “election” in my life.  All the talk about the possible rigging of the election – done by Clinton’s people, if you listen to Trump, and done by the Russians, if you listen to Clinton – all the blather about security breaches and hacking has led the politicians to suggest that the Dept. of Homeland Security take over the voting process and to offer other such anti-democratic notions. I suspect the idea, on the whole, is to suggest in advance that the election results might be questionable so as to cover for any and all unexpected contingencies.  It sounds counter-intuitive – why would they hint that the election is riggable if they are the ones rigging it? – but in fact this gives cover for anything that happens and for whatever recourse proves to be “necessary” later on.  There are also the added benefits of confusion and uncertainty, perhaps even civil discord, that may result from a peculiar-looking election.

Nobody has pointed out that the voting machines do not interface with the internet (no, Russia cannot hack into the voting machines from afar), but that these voting machines do have vulnerability issues both in the factory before they are deployed and at the voting stations themselves, where they can be tinkered with to alter the results they report.  Oddly (or perhaps not so oddly), not one single politician has suggested that a simple paper receipt, printed at the time of voting and handed to the voter, detailing his choices that day, would provide not only a tally for the voter himself to immediately verify, but would be proof of the vote count should an official reconciliation later be required.  And please don’t tell me the voting machines could not have that capability; the local supermarket is able to give me a printed receipt itemizing all my purchases as soon as I pay for my groceries, and they are using a freakishly simple cash register as their technology.  

This is a sad end to the empire. I have known we were headed downhill since the 2000 election shit, but I never expected the final stages to be so depressingly stupid and so obviously corrupt. (Corrupt at every level, I mean, not just the election part.) The ignorance, though, the idiocy and relentless dreary mendacity of all parts of the system: the media, the politicians, the voters, the judicial system, the corporations, the elites….my God, I can hardly bear it. I knew it would not be fun. I didn’t think it would be so dismal and vapid.

And that’s all I have to say about this bleak spectacle for today.

As to the War-pig’s absence from even bothering to campaign for herself; I guess it’ll just remain one of life’s little mysteries.

Update:  Peter van Buren has a blogpost up this morning regarding the allegations of sexual assault coming out against Trump.  It’s an interesting article and raises some of the same questions I have had about this phenomenon.  

In addition to what van Buren writes, my own thoughts follow these lines: Who can explain Americans? These same “horrified and appalled” people regularly spend 15 bucks to see movies where they can enjoy, for their prurient viewing pleasure, much worse treatment of women, men, children and animals than what Trump is alleged to have done. They salivate over movies where people are blown up, dismembered, raped, and tortured. Only they aren’t horrified at the images they paid to see; they breathlessly await the sequels.

We have no end to the number of swinish males in our political, entertainment, and sports venues. Trump is a pig. Bill Clinton is a pig. Bill Cosby is a pig. Anthony Weiner is a pig. Etc. (Need I go on?  I can do this all day.)  

I’ve been surprised at the number of these abused-by-Trump women who are suddenly surfacing. They were adults when the alleged incidents happened, but they were all helpless at the time? Not a single one slapped his piggy face, kicked him in the nuts, or screamed “Get your hands off me!” or “Help!” at the top of her lungs to attract attention to his actions? Not a one filed a suit or told anyone right away? None of these reported occurrences includes any recitation of affirmative action taken by the women, which is very odd. I heard one story on a cable news show last night, where the woman claims to have been accosted by Trump in the first-class section of an airplane years and years ago. She said that he was groping and kissing her “for 15 minutes” while she “kept hoping that the stewardess or someone would show up”, but “no-one ever did”. (She was an adult at the time; all these women were, and that bears repeating. These weren’t helpless little children.) Nowhere did her story include anything suggesting she fought back, yelled for help, complained to the airlines later, or filed assault charges once the plane landed – she simply let him do it and just kind of quietly wished to herself that he’d knock it off or that a hero would magically swoop in and intervene. It’s supremely peculiar that none of these victims did anything at all, at the time or later, in her own behalf.

All that being said, here’s what gripes my old lady’s ass – women and girls still can’t walk about freely without worrying about being raped or attacked, even in these United States. We have to be alert to our surroundings in a way men don’t have to. Not that we’re in mortal danger every moment – I’m not saying that, and it would be ridiculous to suggest such a thing – but girls have to learn early that they better be in a group after dark and they should pay attention to what’s going on around them. It gripes me that our Congressmen and women (who are all “disgusted” by Trump) are busy trying to take away our right to choose and take away our insurance coverage for birth control. Or trying to take away birth control altogether. Or trying to force bullshit “abstinence only” sex-ed into the schools. That they are not supporting financial-aid programs for single mothers and are stripping aid in programs like WIC and SNAP. That they do support and allow the illegal bombing of people in countries all over the globe and that this kills a number of women and children (and, yes, men) every single fucking day. That they do support sanctions on multiple countries that result in the starvation and lack of medicines for women and children (and, yes, men) every single fucking day.  Perhaps Michele Obama, who is pleading with the country that our women and children be “protected from” the Predator Trump by voting for Clinton can enlighten us as to exactly how many women and girls were drone-bombed into the afterlife by her husband, or how many women were separated from their children for years after being incarcerated for minor drug offenses.

Vis a vis the two particular candidates in this cycle: each time the news airs a Trump sex story, they ought to also show the video of Hillary laughing like a demented ghoul when she found that her little “R2P intervention” in Libya resulted in the sodomizing, torture and assassination of Ghaddafi, who, no matter what sort of propagandized shit you may have heard and chosen to believe about him because you are a cretin and couldn’t be bothered to do your own research, was the leader of a sovereign nation. Neither the man nor the nation had threatened the US in any way, but Ghaddafi was assassinated and something like 50,000 Libyans were murdered by NATO forces and the “rebels” we armed and sponsored. She found that amusing and delightful. You ought to seriously consider her proclivities and inclinations along with Trump’s during these last few weeks.

Neither candidate is fit for any office.

Click on the highlight to read Peter van Buren’s article.

 

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 14, 2016 in elections

 

Into the ethical morass of the DNC.

In the “Oh, my God, how’d I miss this?” category:

Since the leaked emails from the Democratic National Committee proved that the DNC was unfairly biased against Sanders from the beginning, trying to undermine his bid for the Democratic nomination, and diverting funds to the Hillary Victory Fund at the expense of other Democrats (not only Sanders, but also the down-ticket Democratic hopefuls in Congressional races), a bunch of Sanders’ supporters and donors brought a class-action lawsuit against the DNC for bias and election fraud.  No-one wants to talk about what the emails actually said and proved, only that the DNC website was hacked into.  Nor does anyone want to talk about the obvious lack of complaint from the DNC about the authorship and contents of the emails: the DNC has not ever claimed that the emails are false or fraudulent or engineered.  Staff members of the DNC really did write these emails and they weren’t altered in any way.  However, despite media and political claims to the contrary, no-one is really sure who did the hacking, and there is certainly no proof it was the Russians.  One might wonder why they would bother anyway, and one might also take note of the fact that a hacker calling himself Guccifer 2 has taken credit, but that doesn’t stop Hillary Clinton and the media from blaming the Russians of this perfidy.  She wants a war with Russia in the worst way, going so far as to suggest in a recent speech that the hacking of that website, obviously run by staffers of dubious technical ability considering their poor security systems, deserves a military response.  Given that the US spies on the entire planet, hacks into the emails and listens to the phone conversations of everyone – ally and enemy alike – we should be careful what we consider grounds for military attack on another country.  Every country around the world would have a basis for bombing the US if hacking into websites is the litmus test.  

In any case, now the Sanders’ supporters bringing the lawsuit against the DNC have gotten a rebuttal from the DNC lawyers: the DNC has filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit based on the “fact” that the Sanders’ supporters and donors “knew all along that the DNC was corrupt” and therefore they cannot sue.  Ipso facto, ad hominem, e pluribus unum, illegitimi non carborundum, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa, amen.

Attorneys working for the Democratic National Committee are hoping a federal judge will throw out a lawsuit filed by a bunch of Bernie Sanders supporters who believe they got duped by the DNC.

‘The DNC was biased in favor of one candidate – Hillary Clinton – from the beginning and throughout the process,” the plaintiffs wrote in their original lawsuit.

The complaint, which was filed in federal court in Florida, alleges fraud, as well as negligence as it relates to a Russian Hack on the DNC server.  [Teri’s note: this so-far unproven claim is ubiquitous in the media.  Very shoddy reporting by every media outlet.]  The Bernie backers contend that the trove of DNC emails posted by Wikileaks further proves that the Democratic Party was working against Bernie Sanders from the start.

However, in a motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed this week, attorneys with the DNC fired back. They believe that the lawsuit is completely without merit, and that the Bernie supporters are using “litigation as a political weapon against a national party (and to support their SuperPAC) in the middle of an election.” They also don’t believe the Bernie backers have standing to even bring the lawsuit.

The DNC attorneys also get a bit creative in their effort to get this lawsuit thrown out. They claim that all of the named plaintiffs already knew that the DNC was biased  when they donated — so therefore how could they have been duped if they knew? We are not joking, that was one of their actual claims in the motion to dismiss. […]

source: lawnewz

 

And here we have the start of a whole new meme; the Hillary Clinton Defense. “Everyone knew all along the Foundation was pay-to-play. You can’t impeach me over it now!”  “The voters knew all along I was lying about the TPP. They can’t accuse me of bait and switch now that I am signing it into law.”  “Everyone knows that Bill and I offered Lynch and Comey some juicy positions in exchange for not indicting me on the email thing. What did you think that meeting on the tarmac was for? You can’t call it corruption now; you knew what we were doing when we did it right in front of your stupid faces and you didn’t call it corruption then!”

We can have a growth cottage industry of lawyers working for people who need to use the Hillary Clinton Defense. People who feel they shouldn’t be sued for vehicular manslaughter because everyone could see they were bad drivers. People who shouldn’t go to jail for peeping tom charges because it should have been obvious to everyone in the neighborhood that they were a tad on the freaky side. Etc.

I’m having some trouble digesting this defense from the DNC – you can’t sue us for corruption because everyone knows we were corrupt anyway. This is the bottom of the barrel in defenses, as near as I can tell.  God, life is a wonderment, ain’t it?  Especially on the way down to banana republic status.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on October 3, 2016 in elections, Russia