2:00PM Water Cooler 5/18/15

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

Dear patient readers: This Water Cooler will be a little more abbreviated than usual, because that campaign corruption epic took longer than I thought it would. In fact, I’m so rushed I published it at 12:55, instead of 13:55. Oopsie!


From the Department of Things That Will Happen When Hell Freezes Over [Reuters]:

On Sunday, Sanders called on Clinton, who was an outspoken supporter of the trade pact as Obama’s secretary of state, to take a stand on Obama’s deal.

“You’re either for it or you’re against it. No fence-sitting on this one,” he said on CNN.

“On TPP, it looks like 1993 all over again” [The Hill].

“Some in administration consider TPP aimed mostly at China” [WaPo]. Because Republicans hate China even more than Obama?

Australia’s trade minister: TPP could be two weeks away if US fast-track measure passes [Guardian].

“Warren Details Obama’s Broken Trade Promises” [HuffPo]. Here’s the report [PDF]: “Decades of failure to enforce labor standards.” Well, as far as most Republicans and plenty of Democrats, that’s not a bug, but a feature, so WTF? What tactical purpose does this serve?


Skipping 2016 in the Water Cooler today; see here, but put on your yellow waders.

The Hill

Pentagon shuts down highly-regarded suicide prevention program [Foreign Policy]. No doubt part of a game of Budget Chicken, but sheesh!

Stats Watch

Housing Market Index May, 2015: “The housing market index has long been signaling strength in the new home market that has yet to appear, but the signal is less strong in May” [Bloomberg].

Commercial paper: “Still no sign of any bounce” [Mosler Economics].

“Goldman’s Hatzius: “The Employment Gap Is Much Bigger than the FOMC’s Current Estimate” [Calculated Risk].

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York’s (FRBNY) dynamic stochastic general equilibrium (DSGE) continues to predict a gradual recovery in economic activity with a progressive but slow return of inflation toward the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) long-run target of 2 percent [Econintersect]. No doubt (?).

“Euro Wreaks Havoc on Carry Trades in Rally Almost No One Foresaw” [Bloomberg]. Except for the insiders, of course. The Bloomberg tweet comments: “theme of the moment: all of the obviously rational trades are going horribly wrong.” Readers, do you agree? Is this “the theme”?

Amtrak Crash

“Amtrak Service Set To Resume, Conflicting Reports On Object Striking Derailed Train Probed” [CBS].

Hong Kong

“Exactly why investors are so keen on an umbrella maker to give it a sky high valuation is puzzling, while its shareholder structure looks even more bizarre” [Wall Steet Journal, “Umbrella Maker Shines as Top Hong Kong Stock”].

America the Petrostate

Handy map Los Angeles methane sources [LAist].

Big Brother is Watching You Watch

“Scotland Yard kept a secret dossier on Star Trek, The X-Files, and other US sci fi shows amid fears that British fans would go mad and kill themselves, turn against society, or start a weird cult” [Telegraph]. “Weird cult” as opposed to, say, the Tories.


Bill Clinton to appear at Rahm’s inaugural [Sun-Times]. Filed under corruption because Rahm.

Brown aims to scale back private prisons [Los Angeles Times]. Filed under corruption because privatization.


Two killed in Chile student protests [Telesur].

California imposes tuition freeze [yay] while crapifying courses [bo] and not taking an axe to their expensie and parasitic administrative layer [BOO!!!!!] [Reclaim UC].

114-year-old school Sweetbrier college to close, citing budget woes amid seeming prosperity [Fox]. If only they’d treated students as consumers and turned themselves into a party school!

An adjunct’s farewell: “[T]he humiliation is too much at this point, and I’ve decided that I’m not going to do it anymore” [Chronicle of Higher Education]. Although the author never joined any adjunct movements…

Black Injustice Tipping Point

“Boy, 10, pepper-sprayed by Minneapolis police: ‘At least I got Maced and not shot’ ” [Guardian].

Dream Hampton Says Jay Z Wired “Tens of Thousands” of Dollars to Cover Protestors’ Bail [Complex]. Good for them, assuming it’s not celebrity PR.

Baltimore shuts off water to homes with unpaid bills, but not businesses [Baltimore Sun]. USA! USA!

Harvard grad students discover there are no urban design courses on race and justice, design their own syllabus [City Lab].

Lawsuit: Fannie Mae, which now owns more than 100,000 foreclosed homes, has been doing a much better job of caring for the ones located in white neighborhoods than minority ones [WaPo]. With pictures.

Class Warfare

“Why Judging People for Buying Unhealthy Food Is Classist” [Hampton Institute].

How Illinois debt blew up Chicago’s credit [Pro Publica].

One third of UK “millenials” like socialism [You.gov].

“Arrested for reporting on Qatar’s World Cup labourers” [BBC]. Why I personally boycott Gulf States airlines.

News of the Wired

  • “Silicon Valley’s amorality problem” [Berkeley Journal of Sociology].
  • Arduino planters [@doctorow]. My heart tells me this is cool. I’m not sure what my head tells me, however.
  • 5 problems with self-driving cars [Live Science].
  • “Twitter’s Great Porn Purge of 2015” [Daily Beast]. Twitter “committed to providing a safe environment for brands to build their business,” something not available elsewhere, apparently.
  • “This is how your age determines the type of porn you watch” [Independent]. Of course, “determines” is the wrong word, but you’ll like the data, if this sort of data is the sort of data you like.
  • “Dramatic discovery at the Bodleian” [Oxford Today]. Was Shakespeare’s Globe round because Cornish cycle plays used round stages?
  • ‘Pitch Perfect 2’ beats ‘Mad Max’ with surprise $70.3 million box office haul [CNN]. MRA heads everywhere explode again. Is there no end to the madness?!?!
  • The Clash’s “Vanilla Tapes” [Open Culture]. London Calling before the producers tarted it up with strings.

* * *

Readers, feel free to contact me with (a) links, and even better (b) sources I should curate regularly, and (c) to find out how to send me images of plants. Vegetables are fine! Fungi are deemed to be honorary plants! See the previous Water Cooler (with plant) here. And here’s today’s plant, the first of Gardens, Week Two (Greg):


Wow! Greg writes:

Some pictures from my patio garden. Currently growing: strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, chard, kale, arugula, mustard greens, spinach, green beans, tomatoes, peppers, carrots, radishes, beets, garlic, and nasturtiums!

Readers, please send me more pictures of your gardens; it’s occurred to me that I started asking too early, before people really got rolling outside.

If you enjoy Water Cooler, please consider tipping and click the hat. It’s the soil, seeds, flats, and planting season! Also too Godaddy!


(Readers will notice that I have, at long last, improved the hat!)

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. Paul Tioxon

      And the republicans have the nerve to attack with “crony capitalism” against the Solyndra!!! Like, there is non-crony capitalism? It’s amazing that the light bulb wasn’t smashed by bible cults trying to destroy the light bringer, Lucifer !

  1. subgenius

    PS…there is no hat

    And its not 2pm….or is it?

    I think there is a glitch in the matrix! Or maybe my hangover?

  2. Anon

    Arduino planters:

    Quite possible the coolest picture I’ve seen today. As for the garden pictures, maybe I’ll have one worth sending at some point, probably.

    1. subgenius

      Hmmm arduino planters….

      …now, dont get me wrong, I like tech (currently working – well…sorta…hangover is defeating me at this moment – on a realtime system built on node js and mongodb…), and doctorow…but arduino planters?


      There is this tech called watering by hand that doesnt rely on environmentally destructive electronics, and it’s not as if there is a massive effort required for planters that size.

      If you cant make even that tiny amount of effort, fill a bottle with water, upend it and bury the neck in the planter, et voila…instant electronic-free self watering.

      1. hunkerdown

        Trouble with watering by hand is that it requires the ongoing attention of a human, who may have better things to do off in some screen somewhere. ;)

        I’m still not all too impressed about the centralization and moving parts, but the kids gotta find their perpetual motion machine in their own way.

      2. hunkerdown

        Also, what if your garden is two hours away from the nearest road on foot and 50′ up a tree? Coming back every week to refill your bottles has a certain potential for misadventure, though poor cardiovascular health probably is not part of it.

  3. subgenius

    Re. Selfdriving cars…

    As has been mentioned before, there is no such thing as 100% reliability in ANY technical (or even natural) system. Therefore, there will be system failures in any autonomous vehicle. And some of these will be serious/fatal. It’s just a question of probabilities…

    So WHO will be responsible…?

    Insurance in vehicles is based on the OPERATOR…if it is self-driving, the operator is google/etc

    I see lawsuits.

    Big lawsuits.

    Or are they going to ‘disrupt’ the legal system to get this shit out to the 1% who could afford them?

    PS…cars are never going to be a sustainable tech.

    1. hunkerdown

      Cars are not sustainable, but self-driving cars may be an interesting bridge technology to get people out of the mindset that controlling the forward motion of a ton of consumer crap is self-actualization. (And with all the ads Google is certain to show in their self-driving cars, it might help acclimate (a few) people toward “public” space, where other people decide which ads people see, rather than “private” space, in which one chooses their own.)

      1. subgenius

        Wait a sec…it just occured to me…its gonna be sooo much fun pwning these…! Lock the 1%ers in and send them across the continent…or out to the boonies until they run out of fuel…

        Shit…I might have to move to Palo Alto after all..

        1. Ned Ludd

          Researchers Show How a Car’s Electronics Can Be Taken Over Remotely

          With a modest amount of expertise, computer hackers could gain remote access to someone’s car — just as they do to people’s personal computers — and take over the vehicle’s basic functions, including control of its engine, according to a report by computer scientists from the University of California, San Diego and the University of Washington.

          You may also be interested in this talk from USENIX Security ’11: “Comprehensive Experimental Analyses of Automotive Attack Surfaces

          We can just call the car and then transmit our malicious payload to it and take it over… We could just record the data into a MP3 and then play our ‘song’ right out of an iPod and directly into the phone, and this was sufficient to take over the car.

          1. AQ

            Are these ATMOS branded cars? Will the Sontarians be invading soon? Sontar ha! Sontar ha! Sontar ha!

        2. hunkerdown

          There is also that capitalism will sell them the Ark Bs in which they exile themselves.

    2. reslez

      Under our current social/regulatory regime, the price for new technology is always paid by the end user.

      So, to use the new self driving cars, you must first accept the EULA. Under the license agreement you’d accept financial and legal responsibility for any deaths, destruction, or random mayhem caused by the operation of the vehicle while you are in it. Even though you don’t control its actions. You may not even have any choice but to use the self driving car to get to work, the hospital, etc But the software gods in their majestic equality forbid the volunteers and the volunteered alike from evading responsibility for the mistakes of software.

      The alternative would be to impose the weighty regulatory burden of forcing new tech to demonstrate its safety… which is so 20th century. We can’t delay progress! Horror. /s Human lives are simply not worth protecting as much as billionaire profits.

      Self-driving cars the way average people think of them are going to depend on a heck of a lot of tech that does not exist and probably never will given how fast our civilization is circling the drainpipe. We may see the tech in limited applications. The way I expect this to pan out is with warehouses filled with remote tele-drivers, much like the drone operators of today. The tech problems are just too difficult to solve, much cheaper to throw cheap human brains at it. An in fact Google already does this in a fashion. Look at the intensive manual effort required to properly map the roads around California, the cheap temp labor that scans all the books and annotates Google maps. Remote operation makes way more sense to me than anything else I’ve heard.

      1. subgenius

        ….ahh, but remote operation relies on radio….and I may, in a prior incarnation, have had experience with radio and something called a phase-locked loop…luckily those pesky M.E. troublemakers never studied such gadgetry, or drones would be far less useful.

      2. hunkerdown

        Two-dimensional space may well be the worst possible environment in which to attempt an autopilot. Unlike one-dimensional space (rail) or three-dimensional space (sky), roads offer too many hazards in the form of competing users, and too few degrees of freedom to avoid them. The one-dimensional case simply transfers the burden of avoidance to those competing users with more degrees of freedom (pedestrians or insurers); the case of aviation alleviates that burden with most of an entire spatial dimension in which to organize or dodge.

      3. Lambert Strether Post author

        On the EULA of “self-driving” cars, I think you’ve got. Shove the risk onto the driver. “Any bugs are your fault, and no, you can’t look at the source code. It’s proprietary.”

        1. LucyLulu

          Most EULA’s provide for arbitration for resolving disputes, which isn’t much better. Increasingly arbitration is being forced down consumers throats as the alternative to seeking justice in court. Even some doctors are beginning to include them in their treatment consent forms.

          Unfortunately, like appraisals in the housing market, the arbitration system is rigged. While both parties have the right to refuse to use a specific arbitrator, arbitrators quickly learn that if they don’t bias their decisions in favor of businesses, their business soon dwindles.

          The pro-corporate Roberts Supreme Court can be thanked for further tipping the scales against the individual..

  4. Ned Ludd

    “Decades of failure to enforce labor standards.” Well, as far as most Republicans and plenty of Democrats, that’s not a bug, but a feature, so WTF? What tactical purpose does this serve?

    I might be reading Lambert’s last question wrong; but the unenforced labor standards serve a purpose: they give rhetorical cover to Democrats.

    “Last fall, I pledged that I would not submit NAFTA to Congress until my administration addressed shortfalls in the areas of environmental protection, worker rights, and import surges. Early this morning we fulfilled that promise. Today I pledge my strongest commitment to a major effort this fall to secure NAFTA’s passage.” – William J. Clinton, August 13, 1993

    Warren probably wants to shatter this bit of deception.

    1. hunkerdown

      Inquiring minds wonder, what was this “ground cover” that was part of the “deal” spoken of a few days ago? Something allowed to grow for a minute, then mulched into something more profitable for the powers that are?

      Unenforced labor standards serve a purpose: plot. See also, the Shirky Principle.

    2. Lambert Strether Post author

      Fair enough, but I would have thought an appeal outward to Republicans on sovereignty would have been more necessary than an appeal inward to Democrats on labor (especially since, on these two points, the goals conflict). But perhaps matters on the heal are now at white heat level, too hard to understandstand…

      1. hunkerdown

        Playing for the GOP as a Democrat, or playing for the peasantry as a lord — wouldn’t either one be inexcusably offsides? (Funny that the concept of offsides doesn’t appear to apply to policy outcomes at all.)

      2. Pat

        I suppose my belief is that destroying the President’s record on Trade advances on all fronts is a reasonable plan in that you don’t know which hot button will be the trigger for defection from the status quo.

        Mind you, we have Schumer screaming about currency then helping to craft a compromise that won’t ever make it into the actual treaty, and after securing the votes for cloture voting against that himself in order to protect his butt. So the bull shit on all this is so deep you need a forklift and a dump truck to try to wade through it.

        That said, yes the destruction of the country’s sovereign rights should have Republicans (AND Democrats) telling the overlords not just no but HELL NO. Unfortunately personal greed is trumping logic, proportion and ideology.

      3. Ned Ludd

        Warren may be attempting to stop a kolotoumba by any pliant unions, whose leaders are probably being pressured to cut a deal the same way that environmental organizations cut a deal with Mickey Kantor.

        On May 4, Mickey Kantor received another letter, this one from the moderate environmental organizations–WWF, EDF, NWF, Nature Conservancy, Audubon Society, NRDC, and Defenders of Wildlife–who had taken to calling themselves the “Group of Seven.” These groups’ support was critical for NAFTA’s prospects, and both they and Kantor knew it. […]

        The May 4 letter and the Baucus endorsement did not come as any surprise to Mickey Kantor. He and his staff had been in close consultation with the moderate environmental organizations and with Max Baucus for most of April. Not surprisingly, then, the position was very close to where Kantor wanted to be.

        Interpreting NAFTA: The Science and Art of Political Analysis, By Frederick Mayer, pp 188-189.

        Kantor negotiated in secret to get these environmental groups “very close to where Kantor wanted to be”. I imagine the Obama Administration is engaged in secret negotiations to win over some liberal or labor groups, to confuse the issue for Obama’s liberal supporters. Consequently, some of Warren’s tactics may be to shore up the opposition, and in response to backroom dealing by Obama.

        1. cwaltz

          Hell, she doesn’t have to go as far back as broken trade promises. She should remind the unions how they got screwed by the administration on health care.

          At some point unions need to realize the Democratic Party is not their friend.

          1. Ned Ludd

            Union leaders earn six figures, so they are doing alright.

            Mary Kay Henry, SEIU – $305,309
            Richard L. Trumka, AFL-CIO – $344,850
            Joseph T. Hansen, UFCW – $384,847
            James P. Hoffa, Teamsters – $460,389
            Edwin D. Hill, IBEW – $485,453
            Dennis Van Roekel, NEA – $543,868
            Gerald McEntee, AFSCME – $668,727

            Amounts came from National Journal’s interactive 2012 Salary Survey, which showed the compensation packages “for 558 chief executives of trade associations, labor unions, interest groups, think tanks, and other nonprofits with a significant presence in Washington.” Unfortunately, the page is now broken, so I cribbed the amounts from an earlier comment.

          2. hunkerdown

            Union member-workers may be well aware that voting for the bourgeois Democratic party isn’t in their interests, but the union organizations themselves are well aware that the bourgeois Democratic party a) is the sole champion of their institutional legitimacy, and b) has a lot to do with why paramilitary force has been conspicuously absent at uncomplicated labor actions.

            It’s a big club, and loyalty does not in itself confer membership.

  5. Peter Pan

    Here’s my Reps response on TTP this morning. Please don’t hesitate to delete if you think it’s too long.

    Dear Peter,

    Thank you for contacting me about President Obama’s trade agenda. I appreciate you taking the time to share your views with me. To be honest, this is complicated stuff. So, let me apologize upfront for what will be a lengthy response. It’s important to me that you understand where I stand and what I’m considering as this debate moves forward.

    President Obama has called on Congress to take up legislation that would give him the same authority that every other President over the past 40 years has had to negotiate trade agreements with other countries. This is called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), which would set the nation’s trade priorities and establish requirements regarding how the Administration must consult with Congress, stakeholders, and the public throughout the negotiations.

    TPA legislation also sets procedures for Congressional consideration of trade agreements. In the past, both parties have used this approach to provide direction to the executive branch regarding what they want to see in any trade agreements. Congress uses this avenue to consider trade agreements because they’ve found trying to amend trade agreements in the legislative branch is not an effective way for the United States to engage in international negotiations.

    This is a particularly hot topic as the Administration continues negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement that would involve 40% of the world’s economy.

    Suffice it to say, it’s important that America gets this right.

    Trade is an essential part of Washington state’s economy. Generally, our state does well when we’re able to sell our apples, our wood products, our airplanes, our software, and other products overseas. Exports from just Washington’s Sixth Congressional District, which I represent, totaled more than $2.2 billion in 2013, supporting more than 67,000 jobs.

    With that in mind, I appreciate President Obama’s suggestion that trade agreements – if done right – could expand opportunities to export our goods to growing markets like those in Asia and benefit Washington state’s employers and workers.

    In addition, it’s worth acknowledging that global trade is a reality. The United States makes up just 4% of the world population – so global trade is going to happen regardless of whether Congress passes trade legislation. In making his case to Congress, the President has asked a key question: do we want America to sit back as China negotiates trade agreements around the world and seeks to set the rules of trade (leading to a race to the bottom on worker standards, environmental standards, and consumer protections) or do we want the United States to be involved in setting the rules and establishing high standards?

    It’s a reasonable concern. Earlier this year, I spoke with a manufacturer in Tacoma whose company makes American products made by American workers. But when that company tries to sell goods to Asia, their products consistently face high tariffs. The owner explained to me that he’s been told numerous times that he could avoid tariffs if he would only move his jobs to China. If we can see more American products made by American workers have the opportunity to enter new markets without these barriers, it could lead to economic opportunities. Trade agreements with adequate protections for American companies could help reduce those tariffs, and boost sales – enabling American companies like this to expand production or hire more workers. But only if they are done right.

    With that in mind, I believe that we need better trade deals than the ones we’ve had in the past. I do not want – nor would I support – an agreement that I believe would lead to American jobs going overseas or that would put corporate profits above the rights of workers or the health of our environment.

    It’s critically important that we have a trade policy that reflects our region’s priorities and values. Above all, it is important to me that any trade agreement that Congress considers must ensure that we are exporting our products – not exporting our jobs.

    That also means that any trade agreement needs to meet high labor standards that must be enforced. That’s why in July 2014, I led an effort in Congress urging United States Trade Representative Michael Froman to fully include the May 10, 2007, agreement on labor standards as part of any Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). The 2007 agreement requires all countries participating in an agreement to be subject to the same high labor standards, puts in place detailed plans to bring countries into full compliance with their labor obligations, and ensures that we have strong and effective dispute settlement mechanisms and penalties. In my view, no country should benefit from TPP if it is failing to live up to its obligations to its workers, including enabling them to form unions, prohibiting child labor, and establishing worker safety and minimum wage standards.

    In addition, it is important to me that our trade agreements have high environmental standards. As the dad of two little girls, I know that our kids are only as safe as the water they drink, the air they breathe, and the earth we pass on to them. I don’t want to see a race to the bottom – nor anything that would undermine our efforts to protect our planet.

    Unlike NAFTA – which failed to include labor or environmental standards as a core, enforceable part of the agreement – future agreements must have high standards that must be enforced.

    Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), along with Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) jointly introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. This legislation would establish congressional trade negotiating objectives and enhanced consultation requirements for trade negotiations as well as allow for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote should they meet the United States’ objectives and Congress be sufficiently consulted.

    This bill represents a departure from so-called “fast track” laws of the past. For example, it includes greater transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight. I’m pleased to see that the public would have at least 60 days to review a trade agreement before the president signs it. Once the president signs it, another 30 days would have to pass before Congress could even begin considering the trade agreement. I strongly believe that the public needs to have adequate time to review, scrutinize, and offer feedback about what’s included in a trade agreement.

    This bill also includes stronger labor and environmental standards and unlike previous so-called “fast track” legislation, this bill demands that before countries can expand their trading relationship with the U.S., they have to maintain a core set of international labor and environmental standards. This means that, for the first time, failure to comply with labor and environmental standards will come with strong enforcement procedures. That is important if we are going to ensure that American workers can compete on a level playing field.

    I’ve had some folks suggest that Congress should maintain its ability to amend agreements going forward. While I’m certainly sympathetic to that, having seen this Congress pass a lot of bills that would negatively impact workers and the planet, I’m unconvinced that allowing amendments would ensure better labor or environmental standards. Rather, under the current Congress, things could get much worse.

    At the same time, I’m pleased that this proposal would also put in place a mechanism that would allow either the House or the Senate, acting on their own, to stop a bad trade deal from taking advantage of TPA’s streamlined voting procedures.

    Finally, it also would make clear that trade agreements cannot by themselves change U.S. law. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has to have a say regarding how our nation’s laws are changed, and I think it’s important that any legislation related to trade agreements makes that very clear.

    As part of a proposed package, another piece of legislation authored by Sen. Wyden would enable swift action to keep foreign bad actors accountable. The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act would also make it easier for American companies – particularly small- and medium-sized businesses that have more limited resources – to identify unfair or illegal trade practices when they happen and strengthen our enforcement efforts so that countries that break their promises would face real consequences.

    With or without trade agreements, global competition is a reality in today’s economy. And when companies and workers need to adapt to a changing marketplace, we need to make sure that they can get the resources that they need to get back to work and keep our economy growing. That’s why I support strong Trade Adjustment Assistance. I’m also pushing for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance U.S. exports of manufactured goods and services and create jobs through direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital finance, and export credit insurance.

    While I will continue to fight to improve the Hatch-Wyden TPA bill as it moves through Congress, I support these bills because I believe that, together, they have the potential to expand jobs and economic opportunities here in America while at the same time fostering the development of higher environmental, worker safety, and consumer protection standards abroad.

    As debate over this legislation continues, please know that I greatly appreciate your insight and feedback in this process and your input on how we can strengthen America’s trade policy. Please be sure that I will keep your thoughts and concerns in mind as Congress continues to debate this issue.


    Derek Kilmer
    Member of Congress

    1. James Levy

      It’s very hard to unpack this because his assumptions about the world are not mine. The tariff issue, however, strikes me as bogus–if other countries have such tariffs, then either they are not in compliance with past treaties or we can slap the same tariffs on them. So TPP shouldn’t matter either way. The fear that the Republicans, if given a chance to amend the agreement, will make it more onerous for workers and the environment may or may not be a real concern.

      What really separates me from this Congressman is my belief, based on seven years of close scrutiny going back to the 2008 campaign, that Obama does not give a rat’s ass about the American worker or the environment. This Congressmen chooses to maintain that he does and that this is part of what TPP is dealing with. But what I think the deep psychological give-away here is the none-too-subtle “Yellow Peril” anxiety lurking in the text of the letter: “If we don’t set the rules, the Chinamen will, and then where will we be!!!” The fear of China is palpable, although rather inexplicable, as China has not got the grandiose vision of global domination that US elites do. But the very idea of accepting any nation as an equal seems to evoke the most passionate hostility in the American political elite. Their entire psychological stability seems to be unhinged by the idea of not being in control and dominant. It would just be pathetic if these guys didn’t have H-bombs and biological weapons at their beck and call.

      1. Peter Pan

        My take is hope & change phrasing to be followed by a knife in the back. Also, the whole China argument & the race to the bottom is total BS: a ship that has already sailed from our shores and the race to the bottom will likely accelerate under TPP.

        1. jrs

          Yes, but it will be OUR race to the bottom.

          (by “u.s.” corporations, not china – now doesn’t that make you feel all warm and fuzzy)

    2. Jess

      Shorter: (Much shorter): I’m fulla shit but I’m counting on you to buy the bullshit I’m peddling.

      Enforceable safeguards? This guy should see Warren’s announcement from earlier today.

    3. Jeremy Grimm

      I added Derek Kilmer to the list of names I will NEVER give my vote to for any office what-so-ever. If he has any ambitions outside Washington State he can forget about my vote.

      Most generous thing I can say about your Representative Kilmer after reading most of his response letter (I started to gag halfway and had to skim from that point on) is he swills the KoolAid. His letter sounds heartfelt and naive — and the more closely I read it … disingenuous, … mendacious, … probably the work of a simpering hack Congressional Aide. The claim of concern for Washington State’s exports is very touching ” … our apples, our wood products, our airplanes, our software, and other products … .” I think that’s an ascending order of importance for Washington’s exports. Let me guess — Boeing didn’t give Kilmer as much in campaign contributions as did Microsoft? The most important export from Kilmer’s district appears to be lumber but wood products? Shouldn’t that say cut logs for export instead of “wood products”? Wood products make me thing of cut lumber and furniture. Everything else on the list is chiefly produced to the Southwest and South. I miss Washington wines on the list — a most distressing omission!

      “I do not want – nor would I support – an agreement that I believe would lead to American jobs going overseas or that would put corporate profits above the rights of workers or the health of our environment.” Has Representative Kilmer read the TPP, TTIP, TISA, TSA, associated TAA? Oh wait — they are either “Secret” or too long and complex to read and comprehend. Besides, they are not meant to be read or understood.

      “As the dad of two little girls, I know that our kids are only as safe as the water they drink, the air they breathe, and the earth we pass on to them.” I need a tissue. Kilmer needs to take a week or two and go visit the TPP text and try a little reading. Unless the versions leaked differ substantially from the bona fide — I hope he does think about his little girls — wait — think about little girls like his little girls, but who don’t have a Congressman or Oligarch for a dad.

      Help! The more I skim, the more I wonder at the meaning of English words — if they still hold meaning. I am totally convinced — Representative Derek Kilmer — will NEVER receive my vote for any office what-so-ever.

    4. Hierophant

      I posted in the Links section a response from my local WA state rep as well as one from our Sen. Patty Murray. I already knew these people were corrupt dupes, but this is pretty insane. It’s like they are all getting the same email to send to their constituents. The Patty Murray one was incredibly bad (not even on the same topic!) but Dave Reichert is talking the same junk as Kilmer.

  6. Jill

    TPP: For me the most telling part of all of this is the 6 year fast track. That’s because it tells us in plain language that both parties want this deal. If they didn’t, fast track would only last through Holy Father Obama’s term.

    This is exactly what Saint Bush did. He put a bunch of authoritarian rights on to the presidency itself. Now one might question,–Bush’s a fine, upstanding cloth coated Republican so why would he want these powers to fall into the “wrong” hands? The answer to this conundrum is–there are no “wrong” hands.

    This is why policies continue and expand across administrations. While the TPP is a fabulous thing for the psychotacracy, fast track is even more wholesomely good! It upends the power of ordinary citizens more effectively that the treaty itself. The fact that so many from “both” parties will vote for fast track tells me they are in a state of conspiracy against the citizens of this and other nations. They are in this state and they have been in it for quite some time. Power is concentrating in the presidency and the president represents only a very few members of humanity.

    1. Ulysses

      The sad truth is that right now the obscenely rich are feeling large and in charge here in the U.S. Stopping the fast-tracking of the TPP is only one very small step we need to take if we are to have any sort of chance at a decent future.

      “The pathologies of the rich will soon drive us over an economic and ecological cliff. And as we go down, the rich, lacking empathy and understanding, determined to maintain their privilege and their wealth, will use their Praetorian Guard, their mass media, their corporate power, their political puppets and their security and surveillance apparatus to keep us submissive. “The secret of a great success for which you are at a loss to account is a crime that has never been discovered, because it was properly executed,” Honoré de Balzac wrote of the rich in his novel “Le Père Goriot.”

      The rich executed a coup d’état that transformed the three branches of the U.S. government and nearly all institutions, including the mass media, into wholly owned subsidiaries of the corporate state. This coup gives the rich the license and the power to amass unimaginable wealth at our expense. It permits the rich to inflict grinding poverty on growing circles of the population. Poverty is the worst of crimes—as George Bernard Shaw wrote, “all the other crimes are virtues beside it.” And the ability of a rapacious power elite to let children go hungry, to let men and women suffer a loss of dignity and self-worth because there are no jobs, to abandon cities to decay and squalor, to toss the mentally ill and the homeless onto the streets, to slash the meager services that give some hope and succor to those who suffer, to lock hundreds of thousands of poor people in cages for years, to wage endless war, to burden students with crushing debt, to unleash state terror and to extinguish hope among the least fortunate exposes our wealthy oligarchs as the most dangerous and destructive force in America.”


      1. jrs

        Can we sue the corporations for Lost Future?

        Not lost future expected profits, not even lost future expected wages although there will be plenty of losses there, but the loss of expectations that there would be a future. The long life we may have hoped for on a hospitable planet or if one has had that the long life already, for one’s descendents, the human race and culture etc.

        Sue them for Lost Future Expected Everything.

  7. fledermaus

    “Some in administration consider TPP aimed mostly at China”

    This is such a load of nonsense. All these articles supposing that China will be begging to join in a few years smack of drinking the Kool-aid. China already enjoys low US tariffs while keeping theirs in place. If anything TPP signatories will go running to China after being buried under ISDS fines and US patent monopoly extortion.

  8. vidimi

    unlucky for those murdered students that they weren’t killed in venezuela. their deaths would have been reported in the mainstream press then.

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