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Gaius Publius: Fast Track Will Also Apply to TISA

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Yves here. I know it’s a weekend, but on Monday, I hope you will remember to find time to call your Representative to oppose Fast Track. As reader Kokuanani stressed earlier, this is a numbers game. As he stated:

The staff members reading e-mails and answering the phones are only reporting the volume of incoming communication and which “side” it supports. Your fabulous essay on the evils of the TPP and Fast Track will never reach the voting member. So don’t waste your time writing it.

Pick one or two arguments [e.g., “secrecy”] and make them. Briefly. Like a sentence or two. Spend the rest of your time getting friends and family to contact Senate offices. The e-mail forms [links provided by Yves] make this ridiculously easy. All you need is a zip code showing you’re in the state. You can walk your pals through the process.

I don’t know how effective contacting the DNC would be, but it can’t hurt, and can alert them that they can’t rely on you for fund-raising or votes.

Here is page for contact information for Representatives.

Kokuanani added last week:

Don’t forget the “district office” in your list of places/ways to contact. NC has provided a handy list of addresses to write or e-mail the member in Washington, but if you look in the phone book, [under “US Government”], you should be able to find your member’s local office. Perhaps they’re lonely for constituent contact; why not drop by & see….

Again, your goal is not to “convince” the Member or his/her staff re how terrible TPP is. It’s to let them know that YOU know how horrid it is, that you’ll be watching their vote, and that you’re telling all your family, friends and neighbors about this, and they’ll be watching too. Congress-folks fear the awareness and activity of their constituents.

By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and frequent contributor to DownWithTyranny, digby, Truthout, Americablog, and Naked Capitalism. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius, Tumblr and Facebook. This piece first appeared at Down With Tyranny. GP article archive here.

Fast Track is not just a path to TPP … it’s evil all on its own. There’s now another leaked “trade” deal, called TISA, and Fast Track will “fast-track” that one too. Want your municipal water service privatized? How about your government postal service? Read on.

Most of the coverage of the Fast Track bill (formally called “Trade Promotion Authority” or TPA) moving through Congress is about how it will “grease the skids” for passage of TPP, the “next NAFTA” trade deal with 11 other Pacific rim countries. But as we pointed out here, TPA will grease the skids for anything the President sends to Congress as a “trade” bill — anything.

One of the “trade” deals being negotiated now, which only the wonks have heard about, is called TISA, or Trade In Services Agreement. Fast Track legislation, if approved, will grease the TISA skids as well.

Why do you care? Because (a) TISA is also being negotiated in secret, like TPP; (b) TISA chapters have been recently leaked by Wikileaks; and (c) what’s revealed in those chapters should have Congress shutting the door on Fast Track faster and tighter than you’d shut the door on an invading army of rats headed for your apartment.

Congress won’t shut that door on its own — the rats in this metaphor have bought most of its members — but it should. So it falls to us to force them. Stop Fast Track and you stop all these “trade” deals. (Joseph Stiglitz will explain below why I keep putting “trade” in quotes.)

What’s TISA? It’s worse than TPP. As you read the following, keep the word “services” in mind. TISA protects the right of big money players to make a profit from “services,” any and all of them.

The Wikileaks Treasure Trove of TISA Documents

First, from the Wikileaks press release (my emphasis):

WikiLeaks releases today 17 secret documents from the ongoing TISA (Trade In Services Agreement) negotiations which cover the United States, the European Union and 23 other countries including Turkey, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Pakistan, Taiwan & Israel — which together comprise two-thirds of global GDP. “Services” now account for nearly 80 per cent of the US and EU economies and even in developing countries like Pakistan account for 53 per cent of the economy. While the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has become well known in recent months in the United States, the TISA is the larger component of the strategic TPP-TISA-TTIP ‘T-treaty trinity’. All parts of the trinity notably exclude the ‘BRICS’ countries of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa.

The release coincides with TISA meetings at the ministerial level at the OECD in Paris today (3–5 June). The ‘T-treaty trinity’ of TPP-TISA-TTIP is also under consideration for collective ‘Fast-Track’ authority in Congress this month.

Note the breadth of the nations involved (highlighted above), the scale of economic activity covered — in the case of the U.S and E.U., 80% of economic activity — and the fact that TISA, like TPP, will be fast-tracked if Fast Track passes.

Click here to download or read the documents themselves. You’ll notice, if you do, that the drafts are marked up with the positions of the negotiators, some of whom propose or agree with provisions, some of whom oppose them. Nowhere in these documents, however, are concerns of citizens addressed. These are agreements negotiated on behalf of corporations by governments to divide up the ways that money will be made.

I want to repeat that:

These are agreements negotiated on behalf of corporations by governments to divide up the ways that money will be made.

As noted, Fast Track will make the final agreements almost impossible to reject by the U.S. Congress. For this reason alone, Fast Track is evil all on its own. Let’s look at some of the provisions of TISA.

TISA Will Make It Almost Impossible for Governments to Regulate Services

The problem with TISA? One is that it will make regulation of service activity — including financial services — almost impossible. Michael McAuliff at Huffington Post:

Wikileaks Drops Another Damning Trove Of Secret Trade Deal Documents

The latest trove of secret trade documents released by Wikileaks is offering opponents of the massive deals currently being crafted by the Obama administration more fodder to show that such agreements can impact United States laws and regulations.

The latest leak purports to include 17 documents from negotiations on the Trade In Services Agreement, a blandly named trade deal that would cover the United States, the European Union and more than 20 other countries. More than 80 percent of the United States economy is in service sectors.

According to the Wikileaks release, TISA, as the deal is known, would take a major step towards deregulating financial industries, and could affect everything from local maritime and air traffic rules to domestic regulations on almost anything if an internationally traded service is involved.

Leaked TISA documents include chapters on:

  • Air transport services
  • Competitive delivery services
  • Domestic regulations
  • Electronic commerce
  • International maritime transport services
  • Movement of natural persons
  • Professional services
  • Telecommunications services
  • Financial services
  • Transparency

and I’m not sure that’s the complete set. It’s just what we have in this release.

“Trade” Agreements, Regulations and Profit

The goal of all of these “treaties” is to protect the only thing being negotiated — the right of an investor or corporation to maximize profit from any country it wishes to operate in. I’ve always stated the concept this way:

In its simplest terms, “free trade” means one thing only — the ability of people with capital to move that capital freely, anywhere in the world, seeking the highest profit. It’s been said of Bush II, for example, that “when Bush talks of ‘freedom’, he doesn’t mean human freedom, he means freedom to move money.”

At its heart, free trade doesn’t mean the ability to trade freely per se; that’s just a byproduct. It means the ability to invest freely without governmental constraint. Free trade is why factories in China have American investors and partners — because you can’t bring down manufacturing wages in Michigan and Alabama if you can’t set up slave factories somewhere else and get your government to make that capital move cost-free, or even tax-incentivized, out of your supposed home country and into a place ripe for predation.

(By the way, “treaty” is hardly the word for these agreements, since nations are never negotiating them on behalf of their citizens. Nations are negotiating them on behalf of the corporations and investors who pull their strings. That’s why citizens can’t see them until they’re signed, while corporate lobbyists have seats at the negotiating table.)

Here’s Joseph Stiglitz on how and why these agreements are an attack on regulation:

On the Wrong Side of Globalization

… In general, trade deals today are markedly different from those made in the decades following World War II, when negotiations focused on lowering tariffs. As tariffs came down on all sides, trade expanded, and each country could develop the sectors in which it had strengths and as a result, standards of living would rise. Some jobs would be lost, but new jobs would be created.

Today, the purpose of trade agreements is different. Tariffs around the world are already low. The focus has shifted to “nontariff barriers,” and the most important of these — for the corporate interests pushing agreements — are regulations. Huge multinational corporations complain that inconsistent regulations make business costly. But most of the regulations, even if
they are imperfect, are there for a reason: to protect workers, consumers, the economy and the environment.

What’s more, those regulations were often put in place by governments responding to the democratic demands of their citizens. Trade agreements’ new boosters euphemistically claim that they are simply after regulatory harmonization, a clean-sounding phrase that implies an innocent plan to promote efficiency. One could, of course, get regulatory harmonization by strengthening regulations to the highest standards everywhere. But when corporations call for harmonization, what they really mean is a race to the bottom.

A race to the bottom of what? The least regulation — governmental interference in profit-seeking — that they can get away with. These deals really are just about the money. Stiglitz continues:

When agreements like the TPP govern international trade — when every country has agreed to similarly minimal regulations — multinational corporations can return to the practices that were common before the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts became law (in 1970 and 1972, respectively) and before the latest financial crisis hit. Corporations everywhere may well agree that getting rid of regulations would be good for corporate profits. Trade negotiators might be persuaded that these trade agreements would be good for trade and corporate profits. But there would be some big losers — namely, the rest of us.

These high stakes are why it is especially risky to let trade negotiations proceed in secret. All over the world, trade ministries are captured by corporate and financial interests. And when negotiations are secret, there is no way that the democratic process can exert the checks and balances required to put limits on the negative effects of these agreements.

Why are these agreements always negotiated in secret these days? Because they’re so toxic. TISA is yet another, perhaps the worst one. And forced deregulation may not be its worst aspect. Here’s another reason to regard TISA with suspicion — forced privatization of government-supplied services.

TISA Could Force Privatization of Government Services, Like Water

Privatizing government services is a major goal of the “neo-liberal project” — something always negotiated, for example, by the enlightened elites at the IMF and World Bank before they bail out a country with too much debt, like Greece. Here’s the Hellenic Shipping News, quoting a WSJ article:

Greece will proceed with the privatization of the country’s main port of Piraeus, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis plans to tell his eurozone counterparts at a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday, backtracking on previous statements from the new leftist government that had pledged to freeze the deal, senior Greek government officials said.

The U-turn comes as Greece’s new leftist, Syriza-led coalition government scrambles to reach a financing deal with international creditors that will keep the country from running out of cash in coming weeks and potentially defaulting on its debts. Since being voted into power just over two weeks ago, the new government has set a collision course with its European creditors by promising to roll back many of the austerity measures and reforms—such as privatizations—that Greece has undertaken in the past five years to secure billions of euros in aid.

I said “neo-liberal project” for a reason. This is not the crazy right wing; these privatization projects are undertaken by people like Rahm Emanuel, backed by people like ex-Wall Street banker William Daley — both of whom are Clinton-Obama–associated Democrats. Parking control is a government service. Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel sold that to “investors,” many of them foreign. Rahm Emanuel is a “liberal,” or more accurately, a classic neo-liberal.

The New Democrat wing of the Democratic Party is also its “New Liberal” (aka neo-liberal) wing. Its members serve Money, have from DLC days onward, just like Republicans do, and privatizing services is a great way to make even more money for people who love only money. It’s why the government Postal Service, for example, is being taken apart by both parties.

In Canada they’re worried that TISA will force water privatization:

Public Services International has sounded the alarm about [TISA] negotiations in its new report, TISA Versus Public Services: The trade in services agreement and the corporate agenda.

Mitch Jones at Food and Water Watch explains, “Negotiations for TISA began in 2012 when a group of 20 World Trade Organization (WTO) members formed the ‘Really Good Friends of Services’ (no, I’m not making that up). These Really Good Friends decided to negotiate a new deal outside of the normal WTO framework.”

He highlights, “Under TISA, privatization of local water systems would be made easier, and fights against privatization would be made harder.”

The report says, “Remunicipalization is significant because it demonstrates that past decisions are not irreversible. …”

“Decisions are not reversible” is its own topic. David Dayen discussed that a bit in this piece; look for references to “standstill” clauses.

The Road to “Corporate Domination”

Dayen is rarely given to exaggerated prose, yet under a headline referring to TISA as “The Scariest Trade Deal Nobody’s Talking About,” even he is forced to write:

You begin to sound like the guy hanging out in front of the local food co-op passing around leaflets about One World Government when you talk about TiSA, but it really would clear the way for further corporate domination over sovereign countries and their citizens.

And “corporate domination” can only mean domination by the very very wealthy, who use corporate power to feed off the rest of us — my own contribution to exaggerated prose.

Neo-liberal economist Jeffrey Sachs, quoted by ex-federal regulator Bill Black here, agrees, calling these same people and their moral environment “bluntly … pathological”:

I meet a lot of these people on Wall Street on a regular basis right now. I’m going to put it very bluntly. I regard the moral environment as pathological. And I’m talking about the human interactions that I have. I’ve not seen anything like this, not felt it so palpably. These people are out to make billions of dollars and nothing should stop them from that. They have no responsibility to pay taxes. They have no responsibility to their clients. They have no responsibility to people, counterparties in transactions. They are tough, greedy, aggressive, and feel absolutely out of control, you know, in a quite literal sense. And they have gamed the system to a remarkable extent, and they have a docile president, a docile White House, and a docile regulatory system that absolutely can’t find its voice. It’s terrified of these companies.

That’s his contribution to exaggerated prose.

Sachs knows his way around the neo-liberal street, having worked it himself. For example, according to Wikipedia, as an adviser to the Polish government “Sachs and IMF economist David Lipton advised the rapid conversion of all property and assets from public to private ownership.” It’s not like he’s not a fan of the project; it’s that he’s now appalled by the people who benefit from it.

International agreements like TISA are important tools in an expanded power grab by the hyper-wealthy people who buy and benefit from our elections, and government negotiators are their agents. The only disagreements at the negotiating table involve which country’s predator (Nestlé, say) gets to eat which other country’s prey (water rights in Oregon, for example). “Trade” agreements empower the predators under color of law.

Fast Track Is Evil All On Its Own

Your bottom line — if Fast Track passes, anything that any President can present to Congress as a “trade deal,” for the next three to six years, will almost certainly pass. Fast Track forces the legislative calendar (no delays), forbids filibusters and amendments, and allows just up-or-down votes.

TPP, TTIP (a trans-Atlantic agreement also called TAFTA) and TISA all fall under the “Fast Track” umbrella. But I guarantee, if Fast Track passes, there will be more deals like these. Fast Track is a golden opportunity, and those who love gold, or serve those who do — that’s you, Nancy Pelosi — will put it to very good use.

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37 comments

  1. hunkerdown

    For that matter, how about your Medicare and your Social Security? Is this a nuclear option against Boehner’s coalition?

  2. jgordon

    Bullshit semantics aside, isn’t Fast Track unconstitutional on its face? You can only twist words around so much before the government starts giving off the faint stench of illegitimacy. Like what’s happening now.

    Anyway, seeing as how carelessly blatant the looting operation has become by the executive and legislature, I wonder if the Supreme Court would deign to step in and rescue them from the toilet bowl of illegitimacy they’re spiraling down. Probably not though; I suspect they’re in on it.

    1. sd

      Fast track has been used before. Fast Track must have a stake driven through its heart.

      1. frosty zoom

        hahahaha, that’s funny. to quote me:

        well, for the demoncrats, it’s easy to throw in a few agent leftituers. ¡ka-ching! they keep their district and the party might even still get 1.3% of their fun-¡ding! from the AFL-SMTA. sure, there’s gotta be one or two brave souls who squeak through, but, alas, not much really, no matter how loud they squeak.

        to stop the trancepacific ownership assignment, the focus must be upon the republican’ts. for it is they, in the shells of tinytown askansas and wemadestuff northeast carolina, that hold the key. there are just too many fans of patriot music (the rotting remains of country music, infusted with budwizer, heroes and dodge rams) willing to do their patridiotic duty and vote to negate any meaningful force on the leftover.

        therefore, it is imperative that jesus himself (pbuh) convince the voting public in the name of all that is holy to stomp their feet in the red dirt of georgia and thrust the lance of virtue into the soulless hollows lying in the heartless hollows of these, to use a forlorn phrase, trade pacts.

        to quote:

        So the devils besought him, saying, If thou cast us out, suffer us to go away into the herd of swine.

        And he said unto them, Go. And when they were come out, they went into the herd of swine: and, behold, the whole herd of swine ran violently down a steep place into the sea, and perished in the waters.

        poor piggies.

  3. sd

    I’ve asked before, does anyone know if a foreign company will be able to sue for lost profits because one state offers less of a subsidy or tax incentive than another state? If Massachusetts offers a better tax incentive than say California, will California be forced to adopt or pay the difference to match the subsidy or tax incentive offered by Massachusetts?

    Just how far will this go?

  4. Feudal Peasant

    Taking the Orwellian view, the privatization of the air we breathe would be the end result.

  5. Demeter

    I would like to know who the evil masterminds of this bundle of “treaties” are: names, nationalities, corporate affiliates.

    I’d also like to pre-schedule their Nuremberg Trial so that we can get a suitable venue…

    1. frosty zoom

      if you want to know, check your credit card statement.

      don’t feed the hand that bites you.

    2. jrs

      There’s been various companies mentioned in various articles, even websites with lists that seem to disappear into the ether.

      This from Water Cooler the other day:
      “The cleared advisors in the email exchanges represent a range of industries and companies, including law firms. Among them are (in no particular order): Recording Industry Association of America, PhRMA, General Electric, Intel, Cisco, White and Case, Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed), Motion Picture Association of America, Wiley Rein, Entertainment Software Association, Fanwood Chemical, American Chemistry Council, CropLife, Medtronic, American Continental Group consultants, and Abbott. There is also an exchange with generics pharmaceutical industry representatives.”
      http://www.ip-watch.org/2015/06/05/confidential-ustr-emails-show-close-industry-involvement-in-tpp-negotiations/

      But that’s not a comprehensive list. We really do need a comprehensive list, I think I may compile one for myself at this point.

      Anything charged on your credit card? Well the credit card company itself is probably in on the TPP, but many small companies sell online and they probably are NOT in the TPP. I think it’s probably correct to regard any large corporation as your personal enemy. But also probably unavoidable to deal with them sometimes, how do you have a computer without Intel or other chip manufactures that are probably no better? Some people need medicines from pharma no matter how healthy their lifestyle. Etc. But best to avoid large companies whenever possible.

  6. Auntienene

    How is this different from organized crime families agreements to divvy up their territories? And when they’ve looted just about everything, will they turn on each other?

  7. TomDority

    I may have read it wrong but, ‘Movement of Natural Persons’ section appears to allow a company to bring in workers at will and without concern about pay…. Mugh like Quttar or other country that import construction labor and service folk in a form of indentured servitude…no saftey, no pay, no recourse.
    It’s sort of like ‘illegal aliens’ in this country (USA) where the politician and the ignorant combine to blame all manner of negative economic and social ills upon the immigrants instead of where that blame should properly go….. upon those who employ those same people without proper pay, conditions, safety in order to undercut the employer who provides the lawfully required standards.
    Cutting corners by cutting human capital is reprehensible.

    1. diptherio

      blame should properly go….. upon those who employ those same people without proper pay, conditions, safety in order to undercut the employer who provides the lawfully required standards.

      Bingo! Gresham’s dynamic in employment practices.

    2. tegnost

      didn’t the japanese pm say something about easing barriers to workers crossing borders about a month ago? did a little searching but can’t find it…

      1. Praedor

        This set of “deals” are the FINAL nail in the coffin of any form of organized labor and living wage in the USA (or anywhere else for that matter). It will, de facto, place all US workers in direct competition with literal slave labor around the world. It turns ALL labor into a cheap commodity with the expectation that if a US worker wants a job, they will HAVE to accept an unlivable wage in the US or will be forced to migrate (at own cost, natch) to a slave labor 3rd world country to acquire a job for pennies a day. CEOs will rake it in at 1000x or more average worker pay, sky’s the limit, and the end will be upon us for any kind of acceptable or livable society.

        I truly am developing a deep hatred for Obama, Pelosi, Reid, Schumer, etc, rather than just deep anger. They all need to be hung by the neck from lamp posts for literally selling out the Constitution and the People for a handful of corporate CEOs. Obama and the rest prance around and SAY they are disturbed by income inequality and want to see it corrected, SAY they are for better jobs with better pay, but at EVERY turn their actions are precisely the opposite. Everything they do, everything they push, harms real people for the sake of the 0.1%, without exception. They pass pointless bills on increased minimum wage all the while knowing that it becomes moot the instant these “trade” bills are signed. Pelosi CLAIMS that fast track and TPP, etc, aren’t her priorities up front, all the while whipping like mad in secret to ensure they all will pass. Typical Democrap fuckery: make sure an onerous and unacceptable bill will pass first so they can then safely vote “no” when the vote comes up, turn around and tell their voters, “See? I was opposed! I didn’t want that bill to pass but what can you do? Vote for me again!”

        Fuck you. I’m voting ANTI-Democrap if fast track passes (passing fast track is the same as voting FOR TPP, TISA, TTIP because they are all foregone conclusions at that point).

  8. Carolinian

    Perhaps those longstanding rightwing fantasies about world government are becoming more true. They probably aren’t, but it seems like the neoliberal faction in this country and others are doing everything in their power to make it look like they are.

    Fortunately those of us who are Americans live in a country large and powerful enough to tell the rest of the world to go hang if the populace were to rise up like Greece against the predations of international businesses and creditors. But it’s hard to see why smaller nations would even go along with this. Nationalism was an idea that became discredited in the 20th century but it may need to make a comeback in the 21st–at least enough to restore some balance of sanity.

  9. II22

    Funny how congress will try and try to pass a human rights treaty and they just can’t, because of that darned old constitution with the two-third concurrence in the Senate. But when it’s time to fuck us for giant corporations, congress just blows off that two-thirds stuff and passes a concurrent resolution by simple majority.

    So if you want to mix it up a little while you’re killing ISDS, you could pretend to be a tea party dupe and ask why they are destroying the constitution.

    Or just get an illegally-proliferated Israeli neutron bomb and take it down there and shoot it off.

  10. DJG

    Yves: Letters written to Durbin (who should know better), Schakowsky (who may actually be “going rogue”), and the marvelously moderate Mark Kirk. Thanks for the reminder.

  11. habenicht

    As luck has it, my congresswoman is having a town hall of sort nearby on Monday evening. Can anyone suggest an executive summary 1 minute statement or question that I could present at a venue like this which:

    1) not only makes the point that TPP is perhaps one of the worse pieces of legislation in our lifetimes, but also
    2) educates the neighbors and community that they need to put this on their radar (so many people that I make casual conversation with have never even heard of TPP! Good job mainstream media!)

    Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

    1. marym

      Bernie Sanders has a statement here

      that includes this summary:

      “The TPP is more of the same, but even worse,” Sanders added. “It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system.

      It also includes a link to his full statement here which is only three pages with 10 reasons the TPP would be bad, very briefly stated if you wanted to address some specifics.

    2. John Zelnicker

      habenicht – The one part I think will reach the most people on both ends of the spectrum is the ISDS provisions which will take away our sovereignty in favor of the profits of the multi-nationals.

      See the Joe Firestone articles from New Economic Perspectives that have been linked or cross-posted here over the past couple of weeks.

  12. Jeremy Grimm

    If TAP passes — maybe it’s past time to stop buying a lot of stuff. Buy food from people you know and if possible from places where you can see the animals or crops. Make more stuff yourself and buy or trade stuff with other people who make their own.

    Should they pass, all these “trade” deals will lead to a race toward the total crapification of all the goods and services entering or offered by our regular economy. Maybe this will give a boost to the black and gray economies. It will certainly make old things more valuable than the new. Jobs were in trouble before TAP came along offering to give them a brutal coup de gras. As for American industry — What is left to dismantle and ship away?

    If TAP passes, I cannot think of a clearer proof that what little remained of our democracy has finally and completely evaporated.

  13. Barmitt O'Bamney

    Democrats have shown repeatedly that they will swallow any kind of shit Obama poops out and call it ice cream. They may complain a bit at first, but watch as they nevertheless force an It’s MMM-mmmm-good! smile onto their faces as they choke it down. This TINA complex of treasonous trade treaties looks likely to pass now, or so I’m hearing from Democrats. Oh they’re not happy about it, but will they dare to call out Obama & co. for destroying our democracy, or dare to leave the party over this? Hell no. And so it’s on to the next betrayal -always on to the next betrayal. They’ll hold the line next time, you’ll see! (Yeah Right.)

    1. jrs

      My Rep is conveniently not taking a position it seems, oh they might be one of the Dem swingers who help it pass when all is said and done, though you wouldn’t think they’d dare as they run on being all progressive. I’ll call again, I called last week and a few weeks before.

  14. Jeremy Grimm

    I just returned from a meeting of the local democratic club. At the end of the meeting after all the regular business had been dragged as long as possible (a simple vote for club/organization officers — by a group of about 8 people, with no contention for any office — took almost 1/2 hour!). I asked whether everyone had called our Representative to urge a vote against the TAP, and suggested they should if they haven’t yet. All but one of the other “democrats” at this meeting had no idea what the TAP was and had very little idea about what the “trade” agreements were about. The one person who had heard about it, heard about it through the ranting of some MSNBC personality for whom they expressed considerable disdain and distaste through their body language and manner of speech.

    I was admonished for bringing up a topic which had no bearing on local politics, the sole purpose for our club and had no place whatsoever in an “organizational” meeting. After a couple of people agreed, somewhat (no one likes heated argument of any sort), with my contention that it is a strange political club/organization which takes no interest in politics beyond a narrowly proscribed boundary and further asserted and described the impacts the “trade” agreements would have on local politics. To this assertion I was told that it was my opinion but there were opposing opinions that should be heard before anyone decided on their position on the trade issue. The chair for our tiny meeting suggested the trade issue should be the subject of some future club meeting (as opposed to an organization meeting) where such matters might be appropropriate for a debate where someone pro and someone con could speak on the issue.

    I am moving away soon and quitting the Democratic Club. I knew how my question about the TAP would go, a question I was sure would not be well received. I asked today because I’m leaving and wanted to confirm my impression that our political club/organization was anything but political, and further, intended not for politics per se, but solely to muster and control local votes in favor of what already is, local, state and Federal.

    I don’t think I’ll again make any effort to take part in such local “politics”. On other occasions purely local questions about our local police were not well received — little questions like how many police do we have to take care of our little community and how much of the police budget and budget for our municipal court rely on revenues from tickets … were met with don’t worry about it, your local government (100% “democratic”) has everything taken care of for the “best”.

    1. jrs

      Don’t you mean TPA (trade promotion authority) rather than TAP? If we’re going to use acronyms rather than full words to communicate we better get them right. I admit I always want to call the Atlantic one something IP and have to look up the acronym. Of course, everyone else may still have no idea what your talking about – just pure ignorance of what is going on.

      The threat to local politics, and everyone is guessing what could be allowed to happen noone has a crystal ball of what will happen, is to make local politics 100% IRRELEVANT (in the face of those corporate tribunals). And of course it’s not really a *trade* issue, that’s a cop out to make it sound like some people are for or against trade, and there could be reasonable people on both sides. It’s a corporate rule agreement, and decent people are not for corporate rule.

      Good for you for trying to spark a local discussion/movement on this, on damp wood of course, with people who can’t care about it I guess.

      1. Jeremy Grimm

        Thanks for correcting my acronym. I get both the acronyms and their translations confused. I get even more confused trying to trace this legislation through our Congress. I never realized the extensive efforts made to obscure and hide public law.

        As for the proliferation of acronyms — I must apologize for any part I have in using or promoting them without translation. The DoD requires documents to state the full translation of an acronym, followed by the acronym in parens … before all further usage of the acronym in a document. I apologize for not following that minimal standard for usage.

        As I suspect you believe, I too believe acronyms obscure rather than clarify or simplify discussion. I am consistently flummoxed by the use of texting acronyms and other acronyms which too often appear in comments and in posts on this site. It displeases me greatly to find myself guilty of the sin I so object to, as well as in err in my acronym. Again — most sincerely — thank you.

  15. chicagogal

    Treason:

    1. the crime of betraying one’s country, especially by attempting to kill the sovereign or overthrow the government.

    2. the action of betraying someone or something.

    Seriously, why is no one talking about the fact that what our “elected” congress and President is doing is nothing short of treason?

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