Sherrod Brown Wimps Out on Secret Trade Negotiations In USTR Vote; Elizabeth Warren Takes Risk in Bucking Obama

Has Sherrod Brown started to follow Obama’s lead in the bait and switch category? The Ohio senator has long styled himself an opponent of “free trade” which has become a neoliberal PR term for what William Greider has long called “managed trade”. Our major trade partners have long made concerted efforts to play these pacts so as to preserve trade surpluses, or at least make sure they don’t run persistent deficits. And the dirty secret here, which American policymakers were attentive to through the 1980s, was that US trade deficits are tantamount to having America export jobs (our demand is supporting foreign workers). John Maynard Keynes also saw allowing countries to run persistent trade surpluses as a bad idea, since the surplus nation suffered no near or intermediate term bad effects, but the end-game was ugly (debtor nation defaults or deep recession/depressions, financial instability).

Brown has had a reputation as pro-labor, anti “free market” ideology. He’s pushed for China to be called a currency manipulator. He even wrote a book in 2006, Myths of Free Trade, whose thesis, according to Publishers’ Weekly, is that “free trade doesn’t promote growth in either developed or developing countries, but simply shifts well-paying American jobs to Third World sweatshops.”

A year ago, Brown joined with labor leaders on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, seeking “to prevent another NAFTA-style agreement from undermining Ohio manufacturing and automotive jobs.” In a speech earlier this month, he insisted that currencies be addressed before any trade deals be finalized.

But Brown caved on a critical trade-related vote on the Senate floor on Wednesday. He voted for Obama’s pick for the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman. Froman, a Harvard law school classmate of Obama, apparently has the dubious distinction of introducing Obama to Bob Rubin. Fromon’s resume shows how he rode on Rubin’s coattails, working in the Treasury under Rubin and then moving to a cushy sinceure as a managing director at Citigroup before he became one of twelve members of Obama’s transition team.

By contrast, trade has not been one of Elizabeth Warren’s big issues, but she’s apparently become aware of the real aim of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the parallel European trade negotiations underway, which is to gut regulation, particularly financial services regulation, and to strengthen intellectual property protections. (Of course, the fact that Fromon is a hard core Rubinite may have tipped her off too).

Warren explained why she was voting against Fromon:

Here is the key part of her remarks:

For months, the Trade Representative who negotiates on our behalf has been unwilling to provide any public access to the composite bracketed text relating to the negotiations. The composite bracketed text includes proposed language from the United States and also other countries, and it serves as the focal point for negotiations. The Trade Representative has allowed Members of Congress to access the text, and I appreciate that. But that is no substitute for public transparency.

I have heard the argument that transparency would undermine the Trade Representative’s policy to complete the trade agreement because public opposition would be significant. In other words, if people knew what was going on, they would stop it. This argument is exactly backwards. If transparency would lead to widespread public opposition to a trade agreement, then that trade agreement should not be the policy of the United States.

I believe in transparency and democracy, and I think the U.S. Trade Representative should too.

I asked the President’s nominee to be Trade Representative — Michael Froman – three questions: First, would he commit to releasing the composite bracketed text? Or second, if not, would he commit to releasing just a scrubbed version of the bracketed text that made anonymous which country proposed which provision. (Note: Even the Bush Administration put out the scrubbed version during negotiations around the Free Trade Area of the Americas agreement.)

Third, I asked Mr. Froman if he would provide more transparency behind what information is made to the trade office’s outside advisors. Currently, there are about 600 outside advisors that have access to sensitive information, and the roster includes a wide diversity of industry representatives and some labor and NGO representatives too. But there is no transparency around who gets what information and whether they all see the same things, and I think that’s a real problem.

Mr. Froman’s response was clear: No, no, no.

Even though the vote was 93 in favor and only four nays, it’s noteworthy that Warren was joined by Carl Levin (along with Bernie Sanders and Joe Manchin).

Even though this is not the most earth-shaking vote, it’s still important because Warren showed some backbone outside the area she’s staked out as hers. She’s getting a lot of heat from insiders and is taking a risk by going after Obama on trade in addition to finance. Brown, by contrast, ought to be embarrassed.

While I am sometimes put off by the cultishness of Warren enthusiasts, she’s made great use of the bully pulpit of her office and been punching above her weight. She just showed some guts on a principled vote with not much apparent upside for her. It would be nice to send her an “atta girl” e-mail for standing up to Obama on this vote.

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  1. John Glover

    Is there a draft Warren for President movement? I’m not a cultist by any means, but seriously what this country needs is someone who’s consistently willing to stand up to the corporatocracy, and I’ve seen no one who does that more consistently and vociferously than she does….

    1. aletheia33

      any real hope for a possible future other than global feudalism lies only with the young people’s global movement that insists on confronting the complete corruption of the entrenched structures at the top level.

      assemblies worldwide are teaching how to exercise a different kind of power that rests in the reality on the ground as communicated among those on the ground. out of a vacuum of hope they are arising; it’s practically a miracle. it’s not lip service that NC has an “i support the occupy movement.” to those in the new generation who are deliberately refusing to participate in mass deception is where our energy and effort can best go.

      let any elected leaders who truly wish to serve begin to publicly depart from the corrupted structures that bind their hands and begin to help. let the police and soldiers turn away from their masters and begin to put their bodies on the line for their neighbors with constructive support.

      the military industrial complex is thoroughly entrenched with a stranglehold on power. the only remaining path, given that this is so, is to stop participating in the farce. media stations are being taken over globally by real people and true reports being broadcast–including the global tally of the illegal detentions, torture, and murders of masses of innocent people, the state terrorism that has so far worked as intended quite well.

      let the global powers that be find themselves with no one left to control with only a few lame goons still willing to work for their hire. i see no other hope for humanity now than the exercise of the refusal to participate.

      1. Banger

        Well, in the old days I would have said “right on” and I like what you are saying–and, sadly, we are a long way from the opposition from young people you hope for–however, it is beginning–non-cooperation is the only path that makes sense at this time since there is nothing else, it seems. The system is, at the moment, too corrupt to function–I’m not actually opposed to corruption–there are benefits to corruption but it has gone too far this past decade and probably doomed our system.

    2. sgt_doom

      You mean just because Sen./Prof. Warren is the only authentic democrat in the US Senate?

      Guess that might be an excellent reason after all…..

    3. Dan Kervick

      I’m not saying Warren shouldn’t be admired or supported, but I think it’s a mistake these days to pin any hopes for political change on candidates for the presidency and their perceived virtues. The plutocratic sewers that Warren will have to crawl through between now and 2016 in order to get elected will likely destroy whatever good ideas she has personally.

      Change is really going to have to come from the bottom up. A decent person in our evil political culture will have to embrace the evil to be permitted to govern if the culture doesn’t change. But even a scumbag will have to change spots and serve the zeitgeist’s demands if the zeitgeist is animated by a broad popular uprising.

  2. Pelham

    Warren has already achieved in the Senate far more than Obama ever did in that august body.

    Therefore, she’s a good deal more qualified to run for president.

      1. nonclassical


        BEhavior=actual positions taken…appear to be placing Warren in substantially ethical company…

        bushbama…?? (house negro) comparison??

        plllzzzzz commit-tell us your continued reticence on Warren isn’t based upon hillaryism…???? As my sister accompanied her on several week international ed.
        junket, China, we personally know her to be 100% bought and sold…

        or perhaps you prefer Chris Christie??

    1. Marilyn

      ….I even like Warren better than Hillary Clinton for 2016. She has far more expertise in the most pertinent areas of economics, banking, and commerce…..

      1. Dan Kervick

        How could anyone like Hillary Clinton in 2016? She and Bill are founding charter members of the whole DLC/neoliberal zombification of the Democratic Party. They are Rubinites totally plugged into the money guys, the Davos scene and big finance, and she would govern according to those principles and interests.

  3. MRW

    A leaked draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) investment chapter has been published online by Citizens Trade Campaign, the same coalition that first published TPP proposals from the United States on intellectual property, regulatory coherence and drug formularies in late 2011. Draft texts are said to exist for some 26 separate chapters, none of which have ever been officially released by trade negotiators for public review.

    “Americans deserve the right to know what U.S. negotiators are proposing in our names,” said Arthur Stamoulis, executive director of Citizens Trade Campaign. ”In the absence of transparency on the part of our government, we have a responsibility to share what information we receive about the TPP with the public.”

    The new texts reveal that TPP negotiators are considering a dispute resolution process that would grant transnational corporations special authority to challenge countries’ laws, regulations and court decisions in international tribunals that circumvent domestic judicial systems.

      1. Phrase

        @ diptherio … & MRW … thanx for the links … from Canada i applaud Senator Elizabeth Warren’s principled position … and how refreshing it is to hear someone on the inside say that the American public’s opinion should set policy … hallellujah ! … & if i may share some of my thoughts …

        I regard global neoliberal capitalist ideology as a threat. … And regarding the TPP, my sense is that neoliberal international trade policies do NOT respect people, and therefore cannot respect or take joy in celebrating global cultural pluralism. … You would rightly say … “Hey, … Wake-up dude, this is just a multi-national trade agreement.” … My response would be … ” Of coarse TPP is that, but it is also much more, like: politics, policies, regulations, implementation mechanisms, institutions, personnel, etc.. As you would agree.

        My thoughts and judgements originate from a mind-set which is a composite of different socioeconomic perspectives which are evolving as I learn more. … At the present time i lean heavily towards being a national protectionist supporting cultural pluralism, as well as a regulatory liberal who recognizes the importance of a principled independent non-captured sovereign, and representative government to regulate the market and its powerful monopolists. Hey, someone has to guide that ‘invisible hand’. … But somewhere down the post crisis river … I would hope that this global community might someday be the home to cosmopolitan liberals in a much more horizontal equal paradigm.
        So the national protectionist would applaud sovereign nation states which are trying to protect and further their specific cultural heritage, and thereby resist the enormous pressure from global institutions pushing for technology-enabled, globally-managed trade regimes and agreements, creating a more homogeneous global culture to maximize market efficiency, … global branding.
        I guess, analogous to the globalization of the ‘control society’ model , … enforced by aspects of the disciplinary society, wherein authoritarian oligarchs, try to resist change and limit discussion in order to further their intrenched hegemony.
        In any case, going back to international trade agreements in the digital age at the beginning of the third millennium. … I know, there is quite a debate about whether national-protectionist sovereignty can co-exist with global neoliberalism. … I think at this stage they are mutually exclusive. … The ideological foundations of the neoliberal TPP agreement is market fundamentalism, or so it seems to me . So ideology, builds policy, which creates global institutions such as the WTO, IMF, WB, which support and legitimate the market fundamentalist neoliberal TPP investor-state resolution process . … To me the skeleton of the beast now has flesh but the gavel has yet to reach the mark . …
        Let us remember that the force behind neoliberalism has been meticulously nurtured over many decades. The collective long-term ideological solidarity of the covert central power brokers, has been augmented by the effective use of disruptive technological advances to manage ‘their’ global economy, … confident that their political cover is solid, and protected by their captured political representatives.
        This confidence, and i would suggest, this corporate collective arrogance, … is openly revealed when substantive discussions affecting global society, are held behind closed doors, as Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested.
        This trend is not new, and of course is not limited to trade talks. … However, for me the distressing effect of this behavior, is that the act of overt exclusion further alienates civil society, building the perception that this illegitimate, unaccountable, non-representative corporate lobby is unstoppable, ever expanding, and not concerned. …
        However, in terms of the TPP and previous multi-national trade agreements … the investor-state resolution process is appalling … and to my mind, clearly reflects the corporate elite’s brazen arrogance. … It has often been articulated that the decisions of this biased investor-state resolution process is just a way to circumvent and subvert national sovereignty … effectively enabling multi-national corporations to steal from the public’s purse, while giving the ‘finger’ to the nation state. … !
        Yes, some legitimate national protectionist sovereign governments try to negotiate exemption, … but at what cost. … After all, there is security in consensus and membership and it takes incredible leadership to resist the neoliberal globalization movement to further regional sovereign culture. Also, being a national protectionist isn’t cool in the eyes of the mass media. … But … Anyways.
        Furthermore, in my opinion, the neoliberal ideology’s longevity is linked to the tactic of managing the narrative by restricting discussion to only corporate friendly dialogue. Issues are nuanced to direct the discussion to material consumer society, efficientcy, and the ad-driven economy. … This is a very shallow dominant narrative driven home by mainstream commercial media … and one which ultimately will prove to be toxic to the global, pluralistic, socio-political economic bio-sphere. … Also the financialization of the economy and the growth of fictious money trumps production and distribution which many of you here know so much about. …
        Again, let’s look at the investor-state dispute resolution body in terms of their considered judgements. … In my opinion, this dispute resolution body is purposefully set up so as NOT to be able to semantically address moral/ethical/environmental/cultural, or other socio-political concerns, because those issues are outside its mandate. … O.K. … But, the problem with that is … the effects and liability pursuant from the actions of global trade and investments are externalized to civil society and the environment at large.
        So, the investor-state resolution body’s mandate is to legitimate and facilitate ever expanding global markets, accompanied by the underlying assumption of infinite growth, … which in turn recognizes and limits the breadth of the narrative to highlighting the multi-national corporation’s fiduciary commitment to continually maximize the shareholder dividends. …( I’m in over my head here, and yes, a little information is a dangerous thing.) … continuing …
        I would suggest that the investor-state panel is designed to render myopic arbitration decisions furthering only the multinational neoliberal-corporate market fundamentalist mind-set. … Sure, a captured congress or legislature may sign off on the agreement but the investor-state resolution panel’s decisions are made by members of the corporate revolving door club. … From the public sector’s perspective these decisions are often seen as a … ‘hit, grab, and run with the money’ occurrence. …
        Do you think that TPP’s investor-state arbitration panel considers … global pluralism, civil society, the social contract, recognition of or even respect for the public interest and in the public good. And what about the environment ! These realms are outside the purview of TPP’s arbitration panel … and that’s the way those corporations and investors … interested in the only short-term maximization of money by, as David Harvey would say … accumulation by dispossession … want it. … The greedy are endlessly needy ! …
        The global, supra-national, unaccountable, short-sighted, economically powerful monopolies, empowered by transformative disruptive technology need to get a ‘soul’, so that at least the elite persons within might have a sense some shame. ” Woe Dude, corporations don’t have souls ! … Chill ! “… O.K …
        But in closing don’t yah think that … “The System” … is brilliantly designed to remove accountability, externalize liability, and set up plausible deniability. … all the best … phrase

  4. dan bednarz

    As a constituent of Warren I see her stand on TPP in the following context. In the summer of 2011 as she “decided” whether or not to enter the senate race I heard her speak in someone’s home. She made a remark that has stayed with me because it seemed spontaneous and therefore unscripted, as opposed to the rest of her comments. Unfortunately I do not remember the exact question posed to her but it was in the area of growing inequality and the crimes of Wall Street. I clearly remember her opposing her index finger and thumb –to indicate the direness of our situation- and saying, “We’re this close to losing this country.” This comment was not tied to the Republicans; it just hung there for an instant. This said, I have for some time thought she wants to run for president in 2016; her age would make a later run difficult. Further, and here I’m speculating big-time, I think recent events –particularly Obama’s decline in the polls, the domestic spying and constitutional violations activities of government- are creating an opening for her to “reform” the Democratic Party. She’d have to take on Hillary, who will remain a symbol of all that’s wrong with the party. I’ll truncate this comment here.

    1. Gerard Pierce

      As far as I can tell, the only real qualification that Hillary would bring to the office is the fact that she is a woman. Initially many of us cheered for Obama partly because of his eloquent speeches and partly because he was black.

      We now have a new acronym – BINO – black in name only.

      It’s time to take on Hillary, and it’s time to take on the neoliberal, Blue Dog, DINO part of the party. Unfortunately, most of the party might as well be Republicans.

      At present, there are less than a dozen people who represent traditional Democratic Party values. Supporting anyone except Warren would be a sad mistake.

      1. Massinissa

        Hell, even supporting Warren would probably be a mistake: Its just SLIGHTLY less likely to be a mistake.

        Even if Warren managed to run off the with the dem party nomination, I cant promise I wouldnt just vote Green party again.

        1. Dan bednarz

          I share your skepticism. Warren would have to make a real break, such as by claiming to represent the historic role of the party, FDR style. As a teacher I can tell you most college student are lucky to have heard FDR’s name and know little if anything of his tenure in office. They do light up when I tell them about the New Deal. I’m not sure Warren sees this possibility -and demand on her personhood- “should you choose to accept this mission, Jim.”

        2. Kurt Sperry

          I’m there too. I appreciate that Warren shows some basic understanding of economic reality and isn’t afraid to say some truths, but I don’t trust her outside of the financial area and I’m coming to the point where I think the Democratic Party is so corrupted by war cheerleaders and corporate influence that nothing truly good policy-wise can ever emerge from that cesspool of war/security state profiteers, influence peddlers and their shameless whores. Too likely a Warren term would be essentially a third Obama term aka a fifth GW Bush term. And that’s a fifth I would not enjoy going down. We *need* a new direction.

      2. redleg

        The only Clinton I would ever trust with the Presidency or ANY public office is George.

        1. Massinissa

          Which one? The founding father or the funk musician?

          Because I think both of them would be better candidates than Hillary or the rest of the Clinton family.

      3. sgt_doom

        Well, she also has experience in reappointing Bush Inner circle types like Marc Grossman and Victoria Nuland, as well as overthrowing democratically-elected governments (e.g., President Zelaya of Honduras, after he urged the raising of their national minimum wage by a few pennies) while she was chair at MCC.

      4. Lambert Strether

        Caveat that I no longer have a dog in any legacy party hunt–

        Hillary was marginally better on policy proposals than Obama for several reasons:

        1. HOLC (FDR-style housing program) was way better than HAMP.

        2. Health proposal, though with a mandate, still committed to universal coverage, which Obama never did (and will not deliver)

        3. None of that hands across the aisle transpartisan crap.

        4. The “creative class” hated her and would have held her feet to fire from day one.

        5. Different base that needed more from government than Obama, hence less will to cut.

        I freely admit that both candidates support the empire (remember when Afghanistan was the smart war) and neo-liberalism in general. Marginal differences are not necessarily insignificant, but one could argue strongly that there’s no real difference. What I don’t think that one can argue, at this point, is that Obama turned out to be better.

        There is also the aspect that the Obama campaign was strongly marked by really vile misogyny (Shakespeare’s Sister kept a list). That alone was a good reason to oppose Obama.

        * * *

        To me, Clinton’s main failing as a candidate was a lack of desire to make a “break” (as another commenter on this thread put it). One clear opportunity came with the Obama campaign’s caucus fraud in TX. Another came at the Rules and Bylaws Committee. Whether out of lack of imagination, or party loyalty, no break came.

        When I look at Warren, I think of her support for Iraq and the (aspirational, for most, as this point) “middle class,” and I wonder if she too has the same failing, and will also refuse to make a “break.”

        Nobody knew FDR would be FDR when he was elected, of course. Elective office is a crucible, and changes people sometimes for the better.

        1. Joe Firestone

          No body knew Pope John XXIII would be “John XXIII” either. The crucible of office can change people. But so few actually change. I do think Warren would do better than Hillary; but I also think she has no chance unless there’s another crash.

          All that said, I have to say I don’t see the big risk Warren is taking. She just got elected, and Obama’s a lame duck. They can all buck him as much as they want and what can he do? Maybe they can all start by getting rid of Harry Reid?

    2. nonclassical

      …here hear…2016=Warren…..”transparency, oversight, accountability”…plllzzzzz…..

    3. Banger

      Great story. She’s was right. One thing that strikes me about Warren she is not a real leftist and never has been but she is now probably the entirety of the left in the Democratic Party which shows you how low the left in America has gone and, deservedly I might add. Most of the activist left is dead or, more accurately, part of the walking dead.

      Warren understands, however, the country better than any politician I know–none of the others, in my view, have clue or care whether they are conservative or liberal. She intimately knows what real families have to go through in her studies of bankruptcy and the real cost of living which was a revelation to me particularly learning how much lower our standard of living is from what it was four decades ago.

      If Warren runs, she’ll be marginalized and the controlled press will crucify her or, maybe, she’ll just be facing what happened to RFK.

  5. sandra

    Sharrod Brown has always caved, and voted with Obama. He speaks well, and sends out mailings with his positions, and fund raising requests, and then he caves on the vote. I took myself off his mailing list with an angry comment at some point — health care perhaps, I don’t really remember which one.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Sherrod was probably taken for a ride in Obama’s 747 and treated to a private NSA screening of “Sherrod Brownnose and His Pet Goat”.

      The confirmation vote for Rubin acolyte Froman follows a ratio typical of AIPAC-related votes, with single-digit opposition. I imagine Warren’s vote was a “permissible” ‘NAY’, a token pressure-relief vote as Greenguy suspects. Since the first failure of the WS bailout bill in 2008, there are no longer any votes in Congress where the outcomes is not predetermined and/or prearranged. America is no longer a democracy; not even close.

      1. jrs

        Yea we get token opposition to this or that horrible policy all the time (sometimes from the right as well – Rand Paul fighting his losing battles). AND YET … and yet … almost nothing but bad policy ever passses, every single time. How many actual defeats of bad policy can you even name? Seriously. Maybe SOPA? Weak … Maybe cat food being temporarily off the table again (but I had went and bought a white tablecloth for it …), because of in-fighting?

        1. Banger

          Depends on what you call “bad” policy. Bad for the country of course–but remember it is not the politicians that are the problem here–they just reflect power-relations. The fault lies squarely with the mainstream media and I mean all of including the liberal’s darlings on MSNBC, NPR and Comedy Central they’re all weasels, courtiers, and careerists.

          The American people don’t have a clue about what is really going on in this country or anywhere else. Some are upset but they don’t know why and focus on nonsensical or cultural issues. But, I have not seen inchoate cynicism on the level I see it–I’m convinced people are becomming open to major change–someone will need to harvest it.

  6. Faye Carr

    Elizabeth Warren is the “new” Dennis Kuchinich. Same thing gonna happen to her.

    1. Dan Kervick

      But Warren is not as left wing as Kucinich. She’s more of a classic “reform” candidate.

  7. Greenguy

    Warren is, like Dennis Kucinich before her (who was ideologically to her left), a pressure-release valve for the Democratic Party. She will keep people tied to an organization which is completely tied to ruling class interests, because she represents their new great hope (like Obama before her), and if only she could get elected president she would change the party and the country, & etc., & etc. It’s just that, sadly, when we have a single example of a sea-change that all of these people point towards – the 1930s and FDR – the reason the Democratic Party changed was huge pressure from radical social movements, fear of the growing Communist and Socialist Parties, and a new constellation of industrial donors behind it, not FDR. Warren will similarly disappoint (she is already in lock-step with the Dems on foreign policy).

    I will continue to organize opposition to the Dems in the Green Party and shake my head as others go through the predictable cycle of infatuation and disgust with a Democratic official.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      I agree on foreign policy, and on the Dems being beyond redemption. That’s why I was disappointed in her Senate run. She hitched her star to a bad bunch. Her Two Income Trap and her stint in setting up the CFPB would have allowed her to play a Ralph Nader-type role on consumer finance (his Naders Raiders were single-handedly responsible for a remarkable amount of good, lasting consumer legislation). IMHO she would have done more practical good via that route.

      1. AbyNormal

        totally agree on Warren (just as heart-wrenching to watch as Nader) and btw it was original Nader Raiders that begged him not to run for public office

        1. AbyNormal

          i should clarify that once Nader thru his hat in the ring, i supported him…i believed he would accomplish much more from outside the circus (as i did Warren). i want nothing but success for both of them!…but in the times i don’t think those with honor and verve will have long ‘shelf-life’.

        2. Banger

          That’s because they knew Nader was too obnoxious as a person to be taken seriously as a Presidential candidate (from one of early Raiders that I was very good friends with). However he is a Great Man and did accomplish a hell of a lot–nothing like him could exist today for various structural reasons.

      2. dan bednarz


        This path was suggested to her in the summer of 2011 at a home gathering of her supporters. Specifically, we told her she was attempting to board a sinking ship, being a senator world make her swear fealty to Obama/DNC, and as a result, her prestige to lobby for real reforms on a national stage would be compromised. She smiled and took the next question.

        1. Massinissa

          Gawd, she could at least have said something like, “I thought of that, but I dont feel I have any choice” or something platitudinous.

          Just ignoring that fellow? Thats damn cheap.

      3. Banger

        I don’t agree–I think Warren understood that the only way she could have an effect is to step into the power-game. She is not even remotely like Obama–she is honest while Obama and the people around him are sleaze personified as is almost all of Washington at this time.

        In the Senate her voice gets heard–that’s the best she can hope for–at the head of a bureaucracy she would be checkmated at every turn–I’ve worked in government and I know that it is just too corrupt right now to do much of anything. All we can hope for are a few politicians like old Wayne Morse to speak truth to power.

    2. neo-realist

      I really wish the Greens would focus more on organizing and getting stronger on the local and state level so they can become a mainstream party whose agenda is well known to the average (low information) voter–run people for city council, mayor, Governor, etc rather than hopscotching to a Presidential candidacy without a base of broad national support.

      1. nonclassical

        greens are good…ufortunately, corporate media plays them off-out of debate entirely…when Canadian greens won big (Quebecois) U.S. media ignored any mention of…no reason to believe this will change…neither will my support for them-which has been hopeful-lengthy…

        1. neo-realist

          Keep working to win the consciousness of the multitudes and win elections; with enough people in positions of elected office, the powers will have no choice but to recognize the greens.

    3. charles sereno

      Elizabeth W definitely seems to be moving up in weight class. I think we can afford to expend a few hope cards for her cause(s), w/o conceding to blind faith.

    4. mushroom cloud

      If she’s serious, she’ll rip the party limb from limb in a no-holds-barred primary fight, then jump to the Greens when she loses the nomination. Wake me up when that happens.

      1. Massinissa

        Quite frankly, I think the way the Greens could be the most useful is by having more Ralph Naders scuttle the democratic party two or three times in the presidential election, so that MAYBE the Dems would wake up to the fact that they would need to come back left if they want to win another election.

        But then again the modern Dems are probably too goddamn stupid to get that kind of message anyway. They might just end up going farther right or something to try and poach Republican voters or something Effing ridiculous like that. It wouldnt surprise me.

        1. Synopticist

          Didn’t exactly work out too well 13 years ago, did it though?

          I love NC, and some of the posts and comments here are amongst the very best you get on the web.

          I sometimes feel though, that part of the reason I like this place so much is because, fleetingly, I can forget the Republicans, and their permanent 47% vote minimum, don’t really exist.

          All power to Warren. I can’t see anyone else who comes even close.

          1. Synopticist

            “They might just end up going farther right or something to try and poach Republican voters or something Effing ridiculous like that.”

            I meant to add, this is exactly what they would do. It’s what all moderate, “sensible” political parties would do, it’s the inexorable logic of politics, to move into the “centre” ground that your opponent surrenders.

            The Republicans don’t do it, because they’re not a moderate party in any real sense any more.

        2. Banger

          The Greens are hopeless so I don’t think there’s any way to rescue them. There is no robust movement other than the Libertarians and even they are a bit tired right now.

          I think an outsider candidate is probably the way to go like Ross Perot. I think, right now, the prime candidate for me would be Jesse Ventura–he has the ability to connect with people and is more articulate than many people think–the guy is honest and not the brightest bulb but he’s f##king warrior who knows the score and that’s what we need now.

      2. two beers

        You’ll be sleeping a long time. Warren has some good positions on Wall St “reform” (in quotes, because institutional sociopathy can’t be reformed, only temporarily restrained), but she’s hardly left of center.

        1. Massinissa

          Like EVERY SINGLE OTHER DEM IN DECADES, with the possible exception of Kucinich, she is probably best put on the scale at Center Right, or at BEST, center-center.

          Amazing how Tea Baggers think Obama&Friends are Socialists or Communists when every single thing they have EVER done are center right. Look at his health care for gods sake!

          As Gore Vidal said, the Dems and Republicans are one party with two right wings.

          1. Banger

            I would put her as basically a centrist. What makes her outstanding is that she is honest and there is no one else in the Senate I can say that about other than Bernie Sanders.

    5. nonclassical

      …important perception….but historically questionable, given Warren’s record on economic debacle…however, only “questionable”….could be accurate…

  8. Klassy!

    I was glad to see that Warren took up the issue of bringing some sunlight to the TPP, something that Sherrod Brown appears to have lost interest in. Too bad her campaign web site declared the need to strengthen intellectual property rights.
    I posted this before, but this does not seem very anti-trade pact. Does resistance to these agreements begin and end with American industry?

  9. Massinissa

    Holy shit, Bernie Sanders the Pseudo-Socialist did something brave for once?

    Thats even more surprising than Warren bucking Obama.

  10. Susan the other

    I wonder if Liz thinks we are close to losing the country to international corporations. She is a senator who was refused information from the US trade rep. We should probably amend the constitution to put trade pacts where they belong – underneath the control of Congress, or by direct referendum, and make it clear they do not take precedence over our sovereignty and such pacts that attempt to take over will be broken. Since TPP is a blueprint for TAFTA, and since David Cameron is demanding we fast track TAFTA, letting trade tribunals take over the world, and the Senate just said OK without even reading the contracts… we should be talking about TAFTA too. It just keeps going under the radar.

    I have a question about TAFTA. Since it will include financial services and deregulation and immunity from domestic laws, will a big trade agreement with the EU amount to new Marshall Plan? All the struggling corporations of Europe who live in sovereignty-limbo will be able to get all sorts of credit for trade; lines of credit; letters of credit… No wonder Obama dashed off to Berlin to give a speech about the joys of surveillance and please don’t eliminate US telecoms from TAFTA. Our telecoms could really benefit from a new Marshall Plan.

    1. Banger

      In the past couple of years I’ve come to support Second Amendment rights precisely because of what is coming down the pike since the left has chosen to sit on its hands I think we need to begin to appreciate the libertarian right just a bit.

  11. leapfrog

    “But Brown caved on a critical trade-related vote on the Senate floor on Wednesday. He voted for Obama’s pick for the US Trade Representative, Michael Froman. Froman, a Harvard law school classmate of Obama, apparently has the dubious distinction of introducing Obama to Bob Rubin.”

    How many more Rubinite cockroaches are out there infiltrating politics and infesting government positions? Is Rubin still behind the curtains, orchestrating every move?

  12. katiebird

    Love the new style in comment-spam. That little bit of ego boost just before you realize the comment doesn’t make any sense at all is almost worth the time it takes to read.

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Yes but this style does get through the spam filters better (witness this hanging comment, we had to delete the original spam comment after it went live).

  13. Hugh

    We should never pay much attention to what politicians say, or even do. We should only look at what the end result is.

    Sherrod Brown and Elizabeth Warren are just this week’s version of revolving heroes and villains. Last week, Brown was a hero. This week, he’s a villain. This week Warren is the hero. Next week, she will play the villain.

    We have been on this carnival ride for years and years. And they keep running it because it still works. If Brown and Warren were serious, they could on their own, and maybe with the help of a few others, bring the Senate to a full stop. They could lead marches on the Capitol. They could fight this out to the bitter end. Then even if they lost, we would know they had done everything they could and were on our side.

    But this never happens. Instead we get a few gestures, a few speeches, but nothing to rock the boat or cause a change in direction. Nor should we pay much attention to how someone voted. There are all kinds of cons in voting. One is to vote for cloture (60 vote threshold) and then vote against on the final vote (simple majority). Another is the cosmetic vote: once a bill has enough votes to ensure passage, allowing a certain number of members to vote no changes nothing but can be used for good PR. Voice votes are a way to hide who voted for or against something. And then there are the Unanimous Consent agreements (which a single Senator, for example could torpedo) which are used to structure debate and guarantee outcomes.

    The truth is that in the career of a member of Congress, there are only one or two times, a handful at the most, where they hold the make or break vote, and we can see where they really stand by how they vote. The healthcare bill, for example, was such a vote, and it is interesting that all of the so-called liberal and progressive members caved on it.

    Much more common are the votes where, as with Brown’s vote for Froman, members vote for what they campaign against.

    1. charles sereno

      An accurate sketch of the behavior of elected representatives, Hugh, but not surprising given the hoops they had to jump through to get in office. Yet every one of them has an option of becoming a “truth teller” or “whistle blower.” While the probability of that happening is next to zero, that possibility is a testament to the noblest ideals of our Constitution.

    2. Joe Firestone

      Good point on what a few Senators could do: Sanders, Warren Brown, Franken, Baldwin, maybe Merkley, Wyden, Whitehouse, and/or Boxer are enough to tie it up if the chose to do it!

  14. FJ

    Elizabeth just joined the Democratic Shit Through a Goose Caucus with Kucinich and Feingold and Wellstone’s bone chips.

  15. jfleni

    Okay Bubba! Open wide and take your medecine, it won’t hurt a bit, I promise!


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