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More Obama Administration Secrecy: Rep. Grayson Can’t Discuss Classified Trans-Pacific Partnership Draft

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OK, you remaining Obama fans: tell me why we should trust the biggest baiter and switcher in the history of the Presidency, particularly when he insists on unprecedented levels of secrecy? Because he has nice teeth and cute kids?

We mention in another post tonight how the Administration is being remarkably tight-lipped about the progress-towards-completion of the health care exchanges that will be fully or jointly run by the Federal government (34 in total). But the mere failure to make normal disclosures pales next to the “all secrecy all the time” that appears to be the Administration’s default.

We’ve mentioned before the unheard-of steps the Administration is taking to keep a large, and potentially important trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, under wraps. We say “trade deal” but that is already a misnomer. International trade is already substantially liberalized. Based on what little information has been wrestled from the Administration, the TPP is most important a means for financial firms and multinationals to undermine nation-based regulations.

An overview from an earlier post:

Apparently Obama wants to make sure his corporate masters get as many goodies as possible before he leaves office. The Trans-Pacific Partnership and the US-European Union “Free Trade” Agreement are both inaccurately depicted as being helpful to ordinary Americans by virtue of liberalizing trade. Instead, the have perilous little to do with trade. They are both intended to make the world more lucrative for major corporations by weakening regulations and by strengthening intellectual property laws…

One of the most disturbing aspects of both negotiations is that they are being held in secret….secret, that is, if you are anybody other that a big US multinational who has a stake in the outcome.

[Dean] Baker describes in scathing terms why these types of deals are bad policy:

…these deals are about securing regulatory gains for major corporate interests. In some cases, such as increased patent and copyright protection, these deals are 180 degrees at odds with free trade. They are about increasing protectionist barriers…

And this sort of erosion of the right to regulate will most assuredly extend to financial services. Dodd Frank? The Brown-Vitter bill that some see as a great new hope for tougher financial regulation? They are already unworkable under existing trade agreements. As Public Citizen noted:

One of the most controversial WTO agreements is the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS)…One of the most controversial service sectors covered by the GATS is finance….

Taken as a whole, the WTO’s limits on financial service sector regulation are expansive. These rules not only guarantee foreign financial firms and their products access to U.S. markets, but also include numerous additional rules that limit how our domestic governments may regulate foreign firms operating here:

No new regulation: The United States agreed to a “standstill provision” which requires that we not create new regulations (or reverse liberalization) for the list of financial services bound to comply with WTO rules. Translated out of GATSese, this means that the United States has bound itself not to do what Congress, regulators and scholars deem necessary – create new financial service regulations…

The draft text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a NAFTA-style FTA under negotiation between the United States and 10 Pacific Rim countries, contains the same limits on financial regulation as the WTO, and more. In addition, these rules would be privately enforceable by foreign financial firms that could “sue” the U.S. government in foreign tribunals, which would be empowered to order payment of unlimted sums of U.S. taxpayer money if they saw our laws as undermining such firms’ “expected profits.” Also, even as the International Monetary Fund has officially shifted from opposition to qualified endorsement of capital controls, which are used to avoid destabilizing floods of speculative money into and out of countries, the TPP would ban the use of these important regulatory tools. Despite years of pressure from former House Financial Services Committee Chair Rep. Barney Frank to permit capital controls, the Obama administration is the strongest promoter of this ban in the TPP.

Back to the current post. Now get this: the draft text of the TPP is classified. This is simply unheard of for a trade deal. The US Trade Representative has been providing summaries of the US position on key issues to Congress but that falls way short of adequate disclosure. Congressmen almost never have the time (even where they have the ability) to read long agreements in full and parse how key sections work (which often mean going back to definitions and in some cases, existing law). So keeping most staffers and third parties with expertise away assures that (until the last minute) the discussion and “clarifications” of the provisions under negotiation will come only from parties that are already in the tank.

As anyone who has been involved in legal-related drafting knows, the actual language is critical. General terms and concepts that sound innocuous can serve as Trojan horses for all sorts of clever “gotcha” provisions. The plan is clear: Obama intends to spring a long, dense agreement on Congress, with the claim that all these other countries are on board and it can’t be changed. The TPP is intended to be a cramdown.

Zack Carter of the Huffington Post reported today:

Members of Congress have been provided with only limited access to the negotiation documents. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) told HuffPost on Monday that he viewed an edited version of the negotiation texts last week, but that secrecy policies at the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative created scheduling difficulties that delayed his access for nearly six weeks. The Obama administration has barred any Congressional staffers from reviewing the full negotiation text and prohibited members of Congress from discussing the specific terms of the text with trade experts and reporters. Staffers on some committees are granted access to portions of the text under their committee’s jurisdiction.

“This, more than anything, shows the abuse of the classified information system,” Grayson told HuffPost. “They maintain that the text is classified information….they tell me that they don’t want me to talk to anybody about it because if I did, I’d be releasing classified information…

“What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it…

“Having seen what I’ve seen, I would characterize this as a gross abrogation of American sovereignty,” Grayson told HuffPost. “And I would further characterize it as a punch in the face to the middle class of America. I think that’s fair to say from what I’ve seen so far. But I’m not allowed to tell you why!”

Now it’s not hard to imagine that the six weeks of scheduling delays were “dog ate my homework” level excuses by the USTR to put off Grayson as long as possible.

Now it may be that the low-level drumbeat of complaints (including a petition last month) is what led the USTR to allow Grayson to see the draft text. After all, it’s a non-concession concession. What have they given up since the draft’s bizarre, unjustifiable classified status means Grayson can make almost no use of what he’s learned. So the Administration may have decided to throw critics a few bones to give them a talking point or two (“see, we have let interested Congressmen see the draft text”). Or it may be that the pact is close to being final and the Administration is on the verge of pushing it through Congress (that seems unlikely, given that Japan just joined the negotiations, but one never knows for sure).

But in any event, these secret negotiations reveal how Obama is systematically stripping away our few remaining democratic protections so he can hand the country, lock, stock, and barrel, over to major corporate interests. The sooner ordinary citizens wake up to what a menace his policies are to their well-being, the better.

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91 comments

  1. David Mills

    As a Canadian living in Malaysia, the TPP has been interesting to watch. Canada is engulfed by the same secrecy as every other negotiating country is, enforced by the quisling government of Stephen Harper. The TPP has only recently been mentioned locally in Malaysia by opposition politician Nurrul Uzzah (daughter of Anwar Ibrahim). The level of debate is negligible as is general knowledge of the TPP. A corporate right to profit embedded in supranational law, yipes. I see the light at the end of the tunnel and sadly it is the Corporate Freight Train…

    1. Banger

      But he’s done just that. He’s made it very clear that the federal government in which I include the whole Washington scene of “journalists”, politicians, staffers, bureaucrats, lobbyists, PR flaks, hustlers and fixers is totally f—-d.

      With Obama I moved from being a Social Democrat to a Libertarian, not that I believe in it but it is the only real opposition movement in the country.

        1. Banger

          Yes, I’m predisposed towards anarchy but, politically, it is not a movement in this country and the Libertarians are on many ballots.

        2. jrs

          Anarchists are great, but I can’t say I buy the philosophy hook, line, and sinker – because it’s a bit much, no? There exists no anarchist political movement in this country. However, much that goes on in the ground level has a flavor of anarchism. There are whole movements working with consensus decision making etc. (famously OWS, but really a lot). And you’ll probably find some anarchists at your protest.

          As for ballots though, the Greens exist on a lot of ballots nationwide as well (although frankly almost nothing exists in ballots in this state since we went open primary!!!!). So really I see no way to work with 3rd parties locally anyway, not here. It’s a complete waste of time.

    2. jrs

      And as I watched Obama on the stage
      My hands were clenched in fists of rage
      No angel born in Hell (Manning, Snowden etc)
      Could break that Satan’s spell

    3. Stan Musical

      Indeed, and I appreciate the writer not mincing words:

      “the biggest baiter and switcher in the history of the Presidency”

      That’s a high bar but Obama qualifies. I can barely watch him speak anymore since he betrayed me and millions of others who weren’t yet cynical enough to think he’d lie to us on such a massive scale. He deserves to sink into the obscurity of a pariah after his term is up, just like Bush.

  2. Monkey Puzzle

    What I’m trying to figure out is, why does Congress put up with the Executive telling them what they can and cannot discuss? We keep hearing how we would be outraged about this and that policy, if only it wasn’t classified. Congress is allowing the Executive branch to control the debate, which makes it extremely difficult to perform oversight.

    1. from Mexico

      Part of the great value of the United State’s massive shadow government is to “find dirt” on politicians. And if there is no dirt to be found, then they have to make it up, placing their credibility and cachet on the line to sell a gullible and unsuspecting public outright lies and fabrications about targeted public figures. And it works.

      Those who believe the US shadow government only conducts these sorts of operations in the third world are mistaken. In Counter-Intelligence two incidents are documented where US secret ops intervened in the internal politics of two countries in the first world — Australia and Great Britain — to depose governments by manufacturing false intelligence. From this it is just a short skip and a jump to doing the same thing inside the US, at which point we can kiss our democracy good bye.

      The segment that deals with US intervention into the internal politics of Australia and Great Britain begins here:

      http://vimeo.com/65148608#t=1871

      The lead-in to this segment begins by noting: “That the CIA has overthrown countless governments around the world is no longer a closely held secret. What is less known is that its agents have engaged in similar plots against America’s closest allies.”

      1. Banger

        Great stuff! Always good to spread the word as to what Washington and the Imperial system is up to and has been up to since the end of WWII. I love the CBS segment–such a report would be impossible today so it’s interesting to be reminded people that we once had a period of history when we had a freer press. Today the media is controlled by the virtual Ministry of Truth with its rigid dictates–how it turned into that is a great story too.

        I will be even more clear here. The CIA, it’s “contractors” it’s allies in the financial world out of which the CIA was birthed and it’s less publicized alliance with organized crime is a central political fact that leftists from Chomsky to your weenie bloggers on the left refuse to acknowledge and declare that those of us who note that the security services, as security services have always had from the Praetorian Guard to the KGB and SS have always been major political actors. But no, most people on the left simply deny that is even possible. Why? That’s what I’m curious about–the evidence is overwhelming and as straightforward as the laws of gravity.

        No political viewpoint that has any relationship to reality can exist without the central fact that much of politics is practiced through covert operations, assassinations and false-flag events.

      2. Doug Terpstra

        Stifling dissent and quashing resistance is what the NSA’s illegal domestic surveillance is undoubtedly all about, and only marginally about the very low threat of terrorism. That must apply especially for politicians, those very few who have not already sold their souls on the lower rungs of the power ladder. Knowing what they have in their beds — whether dead girls, live boys, or sheep — is high leverage indeed. And judging from the vote counts on wars for Israel (never more than single digits opposed) I imagine AIPAC and the Mossad are using the same tactics to control our political prostitutes as the CIA has been (purportedly) using abroad.

    2. Tom Allen

      Because it’s always the other guy’s fault. Congress blames the president, the president blames Congress, both of them blame the courts, and if all else fails, the fault is the American people’s.

    3. Carla

      “why does Congress put up with the Executive telling them what they can and cannot discuss?”

      Because they’re all working for the same people, and it ain’t us.

      There are lots of faux Constitutional Amendments being proposed to reverse Citizens’ United. Corporate personhood way predates Jan. 2010 and goes back to Santa Clara v. Southern Pacific Railroad in 1886. The doctrine of money equalling Constitutionally protected speech was laid down in Buckley v. Valeo in 1976.

      The Amendment we need is the We the People Amendment:

      House Joint Resolution 29 introduced February 14, 2013

      Section 1. [Artificial Entities Such as Corporations Do Not Have Constitutional Rights]

      The rights protected by the Constitution of the United States are the rights of natural persons only.

      Artificial entities established by the laws of any State, the United States, or any foreign state shall have no rights under this Constitution and are subject to regulation by the People, through Federal, State, or local law.

      The privileges of artificial entities shall be determined by the People, through Federal, State, or local law, and shall not be construed to be inherent or inalienable.

      Section 2. [Money is Not Free Speech]

      Federal, State, and local government shall regulate, limit, or prohibit contributions and expenditures, including a candidate’s own contributions and expenditures, to ensure that all citizens, regardless of their economic status, have access to the political process, and that no person gains, as a result of their money, substantially more access or ability to influence in any way the election of any candidate for public office or any ballot measure.

      Federal, State, and local government shall require that any permissible contributions and expenditures be publicly disclosed.

      The judiciary shall not construe the spending of money to influence elections to be speech under the First Amendment.

      For more, go to http://www.movetoamend.org

      1. from Mexico

        I think it’s the old carrot-and-stick approach.

        I have a good friend who was attorney general for one of the Mexican states. When the narcos come to visit you, he said, they don’t just come bearing suitcases packed with millions of dollars in cash. They also come with the explicit message that if you don’t accept the money and do their bidding, your closest family members will by one means or another make their departure from the living.

        But as Hannah Arendt observed, “the greatest disappointment in the Vietnam adventure should have been the discovery that there are people with whom carrot-and-stick methods do not work either.”

        1. from Mexico

          And as Peter Dale Scott and others have documented extensively, the US deep state is up to its eyeballs in all this criminal activity, serving as a protection racket for fair-haired drug lords and the soborning of public officials in places like Mexico.

    4. C

      Half of them are desperate to protect their party and assume that they have to take his orders or they won’t get to ride on his coattails. The other half want the same moneyed interests who support these deals to back their party and all of them want to run for president themselves some day.

      In short this is the corrupting power of money in action. Even before Citizens United corporations or corporate lobbyists controlled the resiviors of cash that elected officials needed and parties controlled the spigot. Now it’s even worse.

  3. from Mexico

    So let me see, we have a new regulation that says “no new regulation.”

    Meanwhile, the security state expands exponentially.

    And all this flies under the rubric of “libertarianism.”

    I get dizzy thinking about it all.

    All this seems to highlight how worthless simplistic dualities like no-government vs. big-government are. Life is just a little bit more complicated than that. As Martin Luther King said, “I think one would have to see the whole meaning of this movement [is] that there are two types of laws. There are just laws and there are unjust laws.”

    1. jrs

      To many an Obots it still flies under the rubric of liberalism. Social Democracy that’s what your getting – now shut up and take it for the corporations or else.

  4. Ran Langemeyer

    I voted for Obama in 2008 because I, too, believed the words he spoke. A few days after he was elected (or maybe he was chosen by the oligarchs ahead of time and the voting was a fraud, too) Obama picked Summers and Geitner to fix the financial crisis. Everyone should have known, in that moment, the direction that Obama was heading. It was just the first of too many to count 180 degree turns that he’s made. In my opinion, he is the worst President that the US has ever had, and yet his silver tongue still keep so many people enthralled and hopeful. Obama is a prime example of how powerful denial can be.

    The man is a pathological liar and is driving the US into the hands of the oligarchs and corporatists. The Clintons are part and parcel of the same group of neo-liberals who will be vastly rewarded for carrying water for the 1%. Hillary has been chosen to take the next leg of the race to the bottom, for the 99%.

    Rise up, people! You have very little time left, before you will not be able to turn the tide that is sweeping over you. Rise up, and throw off your oppressors.

    1. JGordon

      Screw rising up. In essence, all you’re complaining about is that your aren’t getting your “fair share” of the plunder our neoliberal policies rape from the environment and labor of the rest of the world.

      If you really want to change things for the better start figuring out how you can provide for the needs of the people in your local community and have your needs provided for in turn, without having to depend on the corporate state. And as an added bonus you won’t be one of the masses who are taking each other out over that last little bit of peanut butter at the bottom of the jar when the SHTF.

      1. from Mexico

        If you believe the corporatocracy is going to let you alone to just do your own thing, I have a nice piece of oceanfront property in Arizona that would also interest you.

        1. Jay Schiavone

          Not necessarily a bad investment: if things continue to unfurl at this brisk clip, that Arizona land may be “oceanfront” before you know it.

        2. jake chase

          I know it doesn’t satisfy your idealistic impulse, Mexico, but probably the best thing people can actually do (as opposed to dream about) is to drop out and become self sufficient.

          I did it thirty odd years ago and it worked out ok. That doesn’t mean anything to the big picture, but the big picture is such a God awful mess that ignoring it has its compensations. And in the long run we’re all f**ked, even the elite (although they’ll have the best view of the meltdown and canapes and champagne to gorge on until the starving horde bearing pikes comes through the gates and over the walls)

      2. jrs

        The purpose of building locally is many things (it’s rewarding for one thing), but it’s also to deprive the corporate state of power. But by no means is it the only means one should use to deprive the corporate state of power. They fight a battle on many fronts, if in response you only fight on one front YOU WILL LOSE.

    2. Banger

      Obama was an advertising campaign that worked through careful work by advertisers and marketers. They knew the public was craving something like Obama–about as non-Bush as you could get and they equipped him with all the features. Blame yourself for not understanding that is what U.S. politics is about. All politics is back-room deals and guns on the table and has absolutely nothing to do with what the mainstream says it is. I’ve been saying this since 2001 woke me up and no one wants to believe it. Start with 1963 and move from there.

      1. jake chase

        Look, the dude cashed in on White guilt. They just couldn’t imagine a Black guy being so smart, so committed to their welfare, so determined to do the right thing at any personal cost!

        The people voting for him were the same ones who believed cigarettes don’t kill you because some guy dressed up like a doctor says soothing things in a television commercial, the same ones who send money into “charities” that spend 80-90% on graft and fund raising, that reelect Congressman Blowhard who shows up every Fourth of July in a stovepipe hat and eats hot dogs with them.

        Who was the first id*ot who suggested letting everybody vote was a serious answer to any problem?

    3. Carla

      “[Obama]is a pathological liar and is driving the US into the hands of the oligarchs and corporatists. The Clintons are part and parcel of the same group of neo-liberals who will be vastly rewarded for carrying water for the 1%. Hillary has been chosen to take the next leg of the race to the bottom, for the 99%.

      Rise up, people! You have very little time left, before you will not be able to turn the tide that is sweeping over you. Rise up, and throw off your oppressors.”

      Thank you, Ran, for a succinct assessment and a clear call to action!

      I can only add that the problem is systemic; no individual will be able to change it. So we have a helluva lot of work to do.

      Read more at http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2013/06/more-obama-administration-secrecy-rep-grayson-sees-and-cant-discuss-classified-trans-pacific-trade-agreement-draft.html#V7U0dkYtipj7MiwF.99

      1. jrs

        “Rebel. Even if you fail, even if we all fail, we will have asserted against the corporate forces of exploitation and death our ultimate dignity as human beings.”

        “The law historically has been a very imperfect tool for justice, as African-Americans know, but now it is exclusively the handmaiden of our corporate oppressors; now it is a mechanism of injustice. It was our corporate overlords who launched this war. Not us. Revolt will see us branded as criminals. Revolt will push us into the shadows. And yet, if we do not revolt we can no longer use the word “hope.”

  5. The Dork of Cork.

    In my opinion you can see the dymamics of power in this engagement between a Irish TV broadcaster and the Irish Gov. of the CB two years ago now.

    VB: And then of course that- On top of the EU/IMF deal they said to you that in addition to that you cannot default on even the unguaranteed debts of the banks.

    PH: I think that’s the main reason he was crestfallen.

    [moment of silence]

    VB: And why did that -

    PH: It wasn’t part of the negotiations as such. There was no deal. There was no agreement on that. But there was talk around, about that [gestures circular movement with hands] And eventually the decision was [resolute tone] “No”. I think he was quite discouraged by that.

    VB: Was there no room for us to say “Well sorry, we’re not going to finance the unguaranteed debts”

    PH: It’s not in the agreement. It’s not in the agreement. I mean you know the way the world works. There’s political room. There’s no political room. No political room was offered to him BY THE PEOPLE.

    VB: What political room did he need? The deal was there. The EU/IMF deal was there. You were guaranteed the funds for three years and that was it. And you could have said “No, this isn’t part of the deal, there was no legal or moral or any other obligation, political obligation on us to do this. We won’t do it”

    Vincent Browne the famously legalistic and combative journalist never asked the simple question
    Who are these people ?
    “These People” have therefore unlimited control of politics , of fiat.

    But who are these people ?

    I believe these people form at least two lines of power which intersect at a crucial node of state affairs.

    A masonic branch or sect and a Talmudic Jewish sect / elite.

    Together these two pieces of institutional “people” crucify the simple people on a cross of gold.
    Mainly out of pure fucking badness.

    Where has the 19th century agrarian greenback voices of the past gone ?
    Down a very very deep propaganda well.

    We ain’t in Kansas anymore.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u55Z7EeMshw

  6. from Mexico

    Scott Noble just released a new movie a couple of days ago which is most germane to this discussion.

    The movie, Counter-intelligence — and that is what Obama is really all about with his massive secret ops, whose purpose is to keep the populace unintelligent — is over 5 hours long. It explains how the culture of secrecy has come to pervade every nook and cranny of federal government.

    The film is long and tedious, with elaborate expanations of theory and loads of documentation. But the last 20 minutes or so of the first segment is very concise. It begins with a short description of the US deep state. It explains that US black ops consist of 16 different secret agencies with an annual budget of $75 billion, more than the entire defense budgets of France, Germany or the UK. It employs 200,000 people, many of which are mercenaries. Then it cuts to an interview of former CIA officer Robert Steele. The segment begins here:

    http://vimeo.com/65148608#t=3741

    Some good quotes from the film:

    ROBERT STEELE: “So right now our government is completely out of touch with reality and it’s the Keystone Cops on steroids and arms. We’re really in deep deep trouble here.”

    WILLIAM BURROUGHS: “A bureau takes root anywhere in the state, turns malignant like the Narcotic Bureau, and grows and grows, always producing more of its own kind, until it chokes the host unless controlled or excised.”

    WILLIAM BINNEY, former NSA officer: “The USA is now a hair’s breadth from becoming a turnkey totalitarian state.”

    SCOTT NOBLE: “If the corporatocracy has become the de facto emperor of the United States, the shadow government has become its elite guard.”

    For those who want to see only the segment that deals with the NSA, it begins here:

    http://vimeo.com/65148608#t=4021

    1. Expat

      Great links. I just listened to the last portion per your last link, but even that segment, which I watched through Obama’s remarks to a CIA audience, was chilling. I can’t imagine how many times he used the word “freedom” while speaking to our spooks.

      Does any one else remember Robert Bork, who made the seemingly outlandish statement during his failed confirmation hearing that “freedom” is a zero-sum proposition, one person’s freedom necessarily taking away from another’s? It was a scary notion then; it’s terrifying now that it seems to be police state, er, government policy.

  7. The Dork of Cork.

    In my opinion you can see the dynamics of power in this engagement between a Irish TV broadcaster and the Irish Gov. of the CB two years ago now.

    VB: And then of course that- On top of the EU/IMF deal they said to you that in addition to that you cannot default on even the unguaranteed debts of the banks.

    PH: I think that’s the main reason he was crestfallen.

    [moment of silence]

    VB: And why did that -

    PH: It wasn’t part of the negotiations as such. There was no deal. There was no agreement on that. But there was talk around, about that [gestures circular movement with hands] And eventually the decision was [resolute tone] “No”. I think he was quite discouraged by that.

    VB: Was there no room for us to say “Well sorry, we’re not going to finance the unguaranteed debts”

    PH: It’s not in the agreement. It’s not in the agreement. I mean you know the way the world works. There’s political room. There’s no political room. No political room was offered to him BY THE PEOPLE.

    VB: What political room did he need? The deal was there. The EU/IMF deal was there. You were guaranteed the funds for three years and that was it. And you could have said “No, this isn’t part of the deal, there was no legal or moral or any other obligation, political obligation on us to do this. We won’t do it”

    Vincent Browne the famously legalistic and combative journalist never asked the simple question
    Who are these people ?
    “These People” have therefore unlimited control of politics , of fiat.

    But who are these people ?

    I believe these people form at least two lines of power which intersect at a crucial node of state affairs.

    A masonic branch or sect and a Talmudic Jewish sect / elite.

    Together these two pieces of institutional “people” crucify the simple people on a cross of gold.
    Mainly out of pure fucking badness.

    Where has the 19th century agrarian greenback voices of the past gone ?
    Down a very very deep propaganda well.

    We ain’t in Kansas anymore.

  8. TomDor

    Free Trade Gitmo-ized. Thank you very much 1%-ers, we trust you have our interests at heart…….. sorry, can’t go on any further…. my gag reflex has overwhelmed me.

  9. jo6pac

    potus is just keeping us workers of the world safe from the bad guys. I’m sure of this because he would never lie to the citizens of the New Amerika now would he.
    snark

    1. from Mexico

      I don’t know, Kyle.

      They work fine from where I’m sitting.

      The main webpage for Metanoia Films can be found here, but then one loses the specific clips that I had hoped to highlight.

      http://metanoia-films.org/

  10. middle seaman

    Amazement does stop. Obama, whose message was clearly fake as early as April 2008, and Clinton, who decreased poverty and unemployment while raising taxes on the rich, are bad mouthed as if they are one and the same. Obama’achievement record is unique: huge unemployed, massive foreclosures and almost formalizing the oligarchy.

    Obama turned out to be worse than many of his original detractors predicted. He is undemocratic, secretive and dysfunctional except for the rich.

    1. from Mexico

      You can’t look at history in snippets. The whole is bigger than the parts.

      Clinton, just like Obama, is part of something much bigger than either individual, and both played their role as bumsucker for the lords of capital magnficently.

      1. Cynthia

        I agree. What the Obama presidency really makes clear is how little it matters who the president is. Corruption has become so entrenched, so powerful that the president is no more than a figurehead whose main task is to rationalize the corruption or distract us from it.

    2. jrs

      Obama is horrible. I didn’t think we could actually get a President worse than W, and yet we did, with our drone bomb murderer in chief.

      But as for Clinton, didn’t many of the laws enshrined in trade agreements, empowering corporate power over *soverignty* local or national, start under Clinton? Yes of course the TPP takes this much futher. Also what was the efffect on those trade agreements under Clinton on the middle class in this country? Further decimation. But we experienced temporary prosperty? Yea and the bubbles like the tech bubble obscured the underlying TREND of losses in basic jobs and production capacity in this country.

  11. ltr

    Important subject to highlight Yves, and important essay. As for President Obama, listening to him has become a chilling experience both because I understand the difference in administration policy from the words Obama uses and also because Obama’s words seem increasingly intimidating.

    1. ltr

      To be clear, I listened to President Obama speak from Germany this morning on administration spying and even if I had accepted what the President was saying as straight-forward I found no hint of concern for privacy and the Constitution.

      Issue after issue, such as on environment issues, I find the President’s words never correspond to administration actions.

  12. Cynthia

    We really need to bring tariffs back; when you can manufacture anywhere under any conditions and still sell in the U.S., these unsafe working conditions are what results. It could be a simple as low tariffs for injuries and deaths per thousand that is below industry averages, high tariffs for high injuries and deaths, and if the injuries and deaths per thousand is excessive, then you just can’t sell your products in the United States.

    Countries should be free to create their own factory safety standards. I’d agree that the method of achieving safety may be different in different economies.

    But this is just one aspect; our manufacturing base has been decimated not just by people being willing to work for less, but people willing to work without health care, retirement benefits, vacations, or even reasonable work hours. Not to mention environmental damage. All these things need to be figured into punitive tariffs. Let American factories at least compete on a level field, and not by a race to the bottom.

  13. washunate

    Great read.

    I’m sure the authoritarian enablers out there though can helpfully explain how this isn’t really the President’s fault…we can’t have wide spread recognition that Democratic leaders are complete frauds, now, can we?

  14. Banger

    Simply put, we have had a secret government for a long time in the U.S. I won’t go into the details but what most of us think is happening in politics is not real, not even close.

    Now, the oligarchs are so confident of their absolute control of politics that they make no secret of conducting their affairs in secret. This is a sign of strength and the robust nature of the system that it can now come out of the closet.

    As someone said: “He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

    To those who don’t see the obvious let me make it a little more clear. The main focus of the Western ruling class since the fall of Rome was to try and recreate the Empire. Now they have–this agreement is a major plank, among many others, to create an imperial regime for the world One World Government). That’s the agenda–those crazy right-wing nuts were right.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Yup, no foil hat to see an open conspiracy for one-world fascist government. It’s fact not theory, more settled than plate tectonics. Yet tribalists, nationalists, and drone “patriots” have no ears, eyes, or mouth for it at all. They can hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.

    2. from Mexico

      Banger said:

      The main focus of the Western ruling class since the fall of Rome was to try and recreate the Empire.

      That certainly seems to be the case.

      But any success in this regard seems to be ephemeral. From Charlemagne to the Spanish, the Dutch, the English, and now the Americans, the rise and fall of these empires has happened with lightening speed.

      They’ve all been built on ideologies which run counter to their political and economic realities. During the Middle Ages, the Holy Father exacted promises from the secular authorities that they would defend the Church, the poor, the weak, and the defenseless. But the cornerstones of the feudal social and economic order, including those of the Church, were conquest, plunder and exploitation of the peasants — the very antithesis of the lofty ideals espoused by the Church. So gross hypocrisy was the order of the day.

      The same is true today, except the lofty ideals in the age of Modernism have been secularized. Classical economic theory talks about maximizing aggregate utility, about how all boats rise in a rising sea. But just as with Christianity, the ideal was never realized. In practice, liberal economic theory, just like Christianity, is all too quickly corrupted to justify conquest, plunder, and the exploitation of the workers.

      1. Banger

        Success is always ephemeral–but you have hand it the oligarchs they have created a marvelous system as a system. Never since the age of sorcery has there been such a use of “magic spells” been put to use on an industrial scale. We need to kiss a whole lot of sleeping princess to get out of this fix.

      2. Phrase

        For me, the international trade agreements, TPP being the latest iteration, and therefore represents the nurturing of a long term ideological agenda, … an agenda which refuses to acknowledge the worth of global cultural pluralism, which different sovereign nation states try tto protect. … I know, there is quite a debate about whether national sovereignty can co-exist with this particular form of neo-liberal capitalism. … No surprise there, and we can see the smoldering friction between the ‘public good’ and predatory exploitation just over the eastern horizon, … Greece for example. …
        .
        But, the solidarity and longevity of the central power brokers, combined with their increased global management tools provided by disruptive technological advances, … accompanied by their faith that their political cover is solid, and protected by their captured political representatives, … has created a new collective arrogance … within which they can even steal from the public purse of dependent nation states because their investor-state dispute resolution body says so, … unless exclusion is bought somehow. … The arbitration though is, in my opinion, not able to semantically address moral/ethical/environmental/cultural or other socio-political concerns because the court is not semantically equipped to address them. … So, in pursuit of ever expanding fiduciary obligation in the delusion of ever expanding growth … the multinational corporations can only rape and run. …
        .
        Is the above overly harsh ? … After all there are different points of view as i know ‘ from Mexico says’ … would legitimately remind me: … Andrew Gamble’s “The Specter At The Feast” lists the perceptions of the market fundamentalist, the national protectionist, the regulatory liberal, the cosmopolitan liberal, the anti-capitalist, or one who is nuanced in between. …
        .
        To close, i applaud Alan Grayson, and Elizabeth Warren for shouting out that transparency is a right in a functioning representative democracy. … Actually, come to think of it, maybe that is why there is no transparency, and why Bidder 70′s jury could not consider the moral/ethical implications of an act of civil disobedience when rendering their decision … from Canada … with respect … phrase

  15. Chauncey Gardiner

    Thank you for this post, Yves. Due to the secrecy in which these negotiations and draft documents have been wrapped, it seems there is something very key to the well-being of the American people being relinquished here, and it’s something the corporatists, bankers, and their handmaidens absolutely don’t want divulged.

    I don’t know what that something is, but I suspect it pertains to a backdoor avenue to transcend and neuter not just national laws and regulations governing banks and corporations, but sovereign control over money issuance and distribution structures. They want alternatives off the table.

    The fish rots from the head down, and the letter of the day is “C” for Corruption.

  16. Doug Terpstra

    Obama never, ever misses an opportunity for betrayal. As it is with the classification of Abu Ghraib, Manning’s war crimes videos, NSA surveillance, Gitmo trials, torture rendition, and many more buried crimes, we must now always presuppose that Obama classifying anything is prima-facie evidence of guilt. Wall Street owns and runs this country, including the military, as its own criminal racket, and no conspiracy theory is needed to perceive the web they weave. It has little to do with national security; it is the top rung on the ladder to one-world fascist government.

    Yves: “The plan is clear: Obama intends to spring a long, dense agreement on Congress, with the claim that all these other countries are on board and it can’t be changed. The TPP is intended to be a cramdown.”

    Obama’s about-face on renegotiating NAFTA/SHAFTA, to instead signing three new trade pacts, and now fast-tracking the monstrous TPP—rigged trade on steroids—is not just breaking a campaign promise, it is an explicit violation of his oath of office. His abrogation of the US Constitution and the final abdication of US sovereignty is manifest treason—an impeachable high crime. And it is time for more inside men and women of conscience to stand up and declare this emperor naked. This includes Congressman Grayson, who has a duty to his own oath to defy the illegal classification of this conspiracy and stand up for the people he has vowed to serve, come what may.

    1. Ulysses

      This is a true dilemma for people of conscience… Edward Snowden recognized that he had to step outside of a thoroughly corrupt system in order to call attention to its monstrous overreach.

      Rep. Grayson is probably still (like Sen. Bernie Sanders and a handful of others) clinging to the delusion that he can expose corruption through normal channels– and that the system will be overwhelmed by popular outrage, and be corrected through normal electoral politics.

      This is a dangerous delusion, akin to that of those who thought it better to appease Hitler, instead of fighting him before he gained more strength.

      The 1% and their minions don’t care about popularity, they are completely unruffled that congressional approval rating barely crack double digits! Only massive protests, larger and more determined even than those of Turkey and Brazil will get the oligarchs’ attention.

      Would such an insurrection be easily crushed? Who knows? As for me, I draw inspiration from the immortal words of Jimmy Cliff: “I’d rather be a free man in my grave, than living as a puppet or a slave.”

  17. Rocket West Virginia

    Why doesn’t Grayson blab? We need a maverick to throw down in a formal setting. Meanwhile, forward copies of your resume to Exxon-Mobil, Booze Allen, and Rio Tinto and have faith, there’s enough food, water and air conditioning for most of us this summer.

  18. randall

    At HuffPo, someone left this comment re: Grayson and the agreement. To those of you with substantial knowledge of the issues, can I ask is this analysis correct or not?

    ====

    I generally vote Democratic, particularly in the face of the extinction of moderate Republicans, but Alan Grayson is an embarrassment to all Democrats with his churlishness and cultivation of ignorance. Congress is not part of the negotiations of any treaty– that is the task of the Executive Branch of government. Because the negotiations are continuing, Alan Grayson wants to insert himself and Congress Read More… into the negotiations, which is an invitation for chaos and failure. I suspect Grayson knows that, because it has been his avowed goal to kill trade agreements.

    Grayson’s ideological opposition to trade agreements is transparent. The process is only in the beginning stage. After negotiations, the treaty cannot go into effect without ratification by congress, at which point the entire agreement becomes known. Assuming the negotiations result in a agreement to send to congress, Grayson will have his opportunity to stand on his soap box at that time. Meanwhile, Grayson appeals to ignorance to try to foment a controversy about secrecy that does not exist.

    National poverty always corresponds with cheap labor as a simple matter of supply and demand. After World War II, the US was the largest manufacturer in the world, fueled by cheap natural resources imported from poor third world countries. It was inevitable that those countries would eventually capitalize their own industry and use their own labor to compete, and it was inevitable for US multi-nationals to jump on that band wagon or watch other multi-nationals do it instead.

    We cannot expect to maintain supremacy in the world based upon post-WWII neocolonialism. Manufacturing jobs have been declining for most of the past 34 years. One notable exception was the addition of 800,000 manufacturing jobs in the 4-5 years after NAFTA and GATT were ratified and implemented. Most of the loss of jobs over the past few decades has been to SE Asia where we have not had trade agreements. The rise of foreign competition was inevitable, as was the effect on American labor.

    Protectionism (high tariffs) won’t help; it would make consumer goods more expensive and reduce our standard of living, and likely slow the economy and cause loss of jobs rather than save jobs. More manual labor jobs here are not the answer. We need a better educated work force in order to compete globally, not a manual labor work force protected by tariffs.

    1. Adams

      “…is this analysis correct or not…?”

      Not. Unless you’re drinking the Koch/Peterson kewlaid, a .01% solution.

      As noted by Grayson, the post, and many commenters above, the TPP is just another scheme to allow large multi-national corporations to rule the world, and pre-empt any attempt by national governments to limit or regulate their activities. Takes fascism to new heights.

      If you believe this is in your best interest, you will love TPP.

  19. from Mexico

    @ randall

    The entire comment is based on fiction. Take this for instance:

    The rise of foreign competition was inevitable, as was the effect on American labor.

    This completely ignores the way the United States, both clandestinely with its covert ops and overtly with military expeditions, has interjected itself into the internal affairs of other countries so as to destroy labor in those countries.

    The United States has not only destroyed labor in the United States, but in places like Mexico as well, where the average worker’s pay now buys 1/2 what it did in 1982.

    The shortest and most hard-hitting explanation of how labor is being slaughtered in countries like Mexico, that I’ve found, is Charles Bowden here in a Democracy Now interview:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=H8qUoIehnTE#t=75s

  20. Susan the other

    If Moon of Alabama is right, the war in the middle east is done. We lost. But it won’t be announced. That leaves only one feeble weapon: “Free Trade.” So Obama pushes TPP and TTIP (TAFTA) like it is important to our future. It is not. It is more of the same nonsense as the totally irrational war in the middle east. And Simon Johnson warns us that the TAFTA, if it is similar to TPP, will include a section guaranteeing financial services. That’s not good because Europe has failed financially. “We” are desperate to not let the US fail. But we can only survive with “free trade” agreements. So we push them against our own population. We are dead. Since free trade amounts to less than nothing without free demand. The only reason Japan agrees to it and claims it will double the income of farmers is because so many of their farmers have been wiped out due to the incompetence of TEPCO.

    1. Susan the other

      It’s going to be interesting to watch the propaganda as it tries to keep the price of oil high and the banks and all their incomprehensible derivatives alive.

  21. Andrew Foland

    Can’t Grayson simply take to the floor and say everything he knows under the “Speech and Debate” clause?

    1. Ulysses

      If Rep. Grayson were to try that, it might just work… but it would be unprecedented for a representative to knowingly reveal classified information under cover of the clause. The clause is meant to allow legislators to debate legislation without obstruction, not to say whatever they like in a floor speech.

      Thus, Rep. Grayson would have to be careful to introduce the material in the context of proposing his own legislation, or an amendment to other legislation. He would also have to be willing to continue talking after what would surely be moves to rule his conduct out of order, or demands that the matter be taken up “in executive session” (behind closed doors.)

      1. diane

        Welp, that sounds a h e l l of a lot easier than twenty some year olds: hanging themselves; being subjected to torture; or being forced to be on the lam forever to serve one’s fellow citizens. And that is not even beginning to mention the suffering going on of millions Grayson has sworn to serve (which, I might add, also include the historically poverty ridden (shame on him for writing them off), not just that illusive middle class).

        Grayson needs to tell all (unlike Wyden, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.) Pardon me, if I sound unsympathetic.

  22. diane

    If true:

    “What I saw was nothing that could possibly justify the secrecy that surrounds it…

    Grayson needs to tell ALL. Didn’t he take an oath to serve the public? And what would happen if he did so? Really? As a US House Representative presumably sworn to serve us citizens? Any legal experts who can opine there?

    Tired of seeing twenty some year olds committing suicide; being tortured after serving their fellow citizens, or being forced to forever hide from a thoroughly corrupted U$ Government in order to serve one’s fellow citizens.

    Sick at the fact that the U$ has now thoroughly written off the poverty ridden and is now working on forever impoverishing those so called “middle class.”

    Perhaps we need a black out on $$$$$$COMMERCE$$$$$ day[s] to get the point across; and for those vital to life purchases on that day, cash only? Perhaps even a blackout on anything but vital lifesaving communications day? Let the MOFO$ running things wonder what their subjects/targeted victims are up to?

  23. steelhead23

    Well, everyone who has had access to the internet for the last 5 years or so knows that Grayson cannot be trusted. After all, he very nearly bashed the fine gentleman who was running against him at a public restaurant. We simply cannot have such loose cannons interrupting the flow of commerce. /sarc

    George Orwell was not a novelist. He was a prophet.

    1. rps

      It’s interesting how many exult Orwell as tbe prophet when it was Aldous Huxley who was his tutor at Eton in 1917 and continued as a lifelong friendship. Aldous Huxley wrote Brave New World in 1932. Orwell had sent a copy of 1984 to his mentor in October 1946. It is in my opinion that Huxley’s excerpted reply that is prescient as well as his masterpiece Brave New World:

      “Within the next generation I believe that the world’s rulers will discover that infant conditioning and narco-hypnosis are more efficient, as instruments of government, than clubs and prisons, and that the lust for power can be just as completely satisfied by suggesting people into loving their servitude as by flogging and kicking them into obedience.

      In other words, I feel that the nightmare of Nineteen Eighty-Four is destined to modulate into the nightmare of a world having more resemblance to that which I imagined in Brave New World.”

  24. bob

    “Grayson can make almost no use of what he’s learned.”

    Who’s gonna throw a rich, sitting congress person in jail?

    For speaking?

    1. bob

      Even the “cop” on the beat in congress has come out as opposed to this. Issa.

      What threat is he facing? Speak!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      You saw what they did to a rich attorney general. And he didn’t reveal classified information, all he did was go after some big corporations. Oh, and Google what happened to Michael Hastings.

      1. bob

        Elliot got a TV gig out of it. He was also the person who “quit”.

        If that’s the worst they can do, sign me up.

        Once again, who is going to go after him? Issa has already spoken out. Holder? Going after a dem congressman? He’d be a hero of the right.

        The whole point is that this should not be classified. How do you prove it shouldn’t be classified if you don’t speak about it?

        In order to prosecute him, legally, they would also have the make the case that the information is “classified”, whatever that means.

        It’s civil disobedience 101. The law is unjust. Don’t follow the law. In this case, following the law requires him to go against the interests of his constituents.

        In some ways, the people keeping their mouths completely shut have more moral authority. Hear no evil, speak no evil…

        I see him as one of the few left with enough stage to make a difference.

        “But, they’ll arrest me”…I doubt it. And even if they did, it would bring attention to the issue.

        I can’t imagine a better time to do it, in fact.

  25. Josh Taylor

    Paul Craig Roberts lied. TPP transfers to corporations the power to govern countries.

    Start building your underground bunkers because your congressman, Senator, and Governor will be one of those corporates once this shit is signed. And if you rebel they will put you in those FEMA camps forcing you to make their unsafe products.

  26. Patricia Stidham-Burns

    All I have to say is I am fed up with this man. I can barely look or listen to him any more. He has lied, betrayed, sold out, pried, you name it! He is not my president!

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