TPP: 13 Democratic Senators Invite Republicans to Make Them Laughing Stocks and More Serious Matters

By Joe Firestone, Ph.D., Managing Director, CEO of the Knowledge Management Consortium International (KMCI), and Director of KMCI’s CKIM Certificate program. He taught political science as the graduate and undergraduate level and blogs regularly at Corrente, Firedoglake and New Economic Perspectives. Originally published at New Economic Perspectives

The cloture vote in the Senate is now done, making the TPA vote itself a mere formality. The vote was 60 – 37 in favor of cloture with 13 of the 14 original Democratic defectors (Ben Cardin was the exception) sticking with the multinational corporations, the President, and all but five of the Republicans in supporting cloture. Supporters of cloture celebrated the bipartisan nature of the vote, as if Americans who lose their jobs and their sovereignty as a consequence of it, and the things it enables, will look more favorably on what they did because both major parties did it.

Meanwhile, three of the five steps in the process for passing the Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill devised by the Republicans are virtually complete. The remaining steps now defined by McConnell are:

After the Senate votes Wednesday on final passage for fast-track, it will take a procedural vote on a package that includes TAA and trade preferences for African countries known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).

McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.

“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,”

he said on the floor.

This remaining process includes the final step of the House passing TAA with the overwhelming support of Democrats, added to about 30 – 40 Republicans, because, it is assumed, probably correctly, that once TPA is passed, then Democrats will have every incentive to vote for TAA, while Boehner will be able to supply the remainder of the votes needed to pass it and keep the McConnell/Boehner commitments to the House and Senate Democratic defectors.

This last step, however, isn’t guaranteed to happen in the House. A TAA package received 86 Republican votes in the House in the failed roll call vote that was tied to the first TPA package. But that total for TAA was delivered under pressure from the leadership to pass the TPA package.

Sadly for the 13 defecting Democrats, even if McConnell delivers on his promise of Senate performance this week, then John Boehner may not be able to deliver the 30-40 Republican House votes for the new trade preferences package from the Senate including TAA, using only the incentives of protecting the honor of McConnell, Boehner, and the President, and ensuring that the 13 Senate Democrats don’t turn on the trade deals, and vote “no” on the up or down votes on “free trade” left to them later on, after the TPA bill becomes law.

Even more to the point, the incentives of Republican leaders, once they have the TPA in hand for their neoliberal President, who they pretend to disagree so vehemently with, lie in maximizing the chances for a Republican Senate victory in 2016. A big help in achieving that outcome would be the defeat of Patty Murray (D-WA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Ron Wyden (D-OR). So, I still think the 13 Democrats, and especially the three immediately vulnerable ones in 2016, who voted for the TPA bill, have invited the Republicans to make them laughing stocks, seen as naive and incompetent by their constituents for their decision to “trust” the Republicans.

All that said, the impact of their poorly evaluated decision is broad.

First, these Democrats, and the Republicans who voted with them, have now made it much more difficult for the TPP, the TTIP, the TiSA, and other “trade deals” that may be hatched by Obama’s plutocrats over the next 6 years to be defeated in the Senate, because there can be no resort to the filibuster, and amendments to change or block harmful deals that the President negotiates.

Second, the immediate implications for the TPP itself are that it will be extremely difficult to block its passage with “no” votes in the Senate. Among the 54 Republicans, Senators Sessions, Shelby, Collins, Paul, Lee, and Cruz, seem to be no votes on the TPP, while 48 Republicans seem committed to it. Among the Democrats 33 seem to be no votes, while 13 are for it. If the Republican opposition doesn’t increase in number, then 12 of the 13 Democratic “yes” votes would have to change to “no” votes to defeat it. So, without help from a number of additional Republicans, it will be very difficult to get enough Democrats to shift to defeat the TPP in the Senate.

Defeating it in the House may be easier, however. Since the House is much more subject to short-term political currents including pressure from a movement than is the Senate.

Third, it would take the development of a ferocious movement in opposition to trade deals to motivate enough additional Democrats and Republicans to shift that many votes in the Senate, while in the House such a movement would make it much easier than it is now to shift the 15 votes or so that would probably bring a victory there. And if there is any hope of doing that, it will lie in the impact of public disclosure of the TPP agreement, which will occur when the TPP is introduced in Congress, and also in the extent to which the opposition movement can educate people about the TPP and its likely consequences in enough numbers to fuel enough of a negative reaction to get people in both Houses to change their votes.

To develop such a movement, the anti -TPP movement has to be undeterred by its first round defeat and by the new difficulties it faces in the Senate. There is no time to waste. The effort must be unflagging. It must be smarter than it has been so far, and it must develop a campaign and messaging that forces mainstream politicians running for the presidency into the fray on the side of the anti-TPP movement.

I’m not so much worried about the motivation of the anti-TPP effort as I am about its opposition campaign and messaging. I believe that the first rounds of the fight against these trade deals involved a significant error by the anti-TPP forces. From the beginning, much of the outrage against the TPP has been focused on its anti-labor, anti-worker, anti-manufacturing aspects.

I agree that these are important and should continue to be messaged. But, this cluster of issues isn’t important enough to enough people to organize and coordinate a movement of movements that can unify all streams of opposition to these trade deals. What’s needed for a successful opposition campaign is an organizing theme that can encompass all the objections normally lodged against the substance of the TPP including the impacts Labor has been focused on.

I think this theme should be the TPP’s infringement on Federal, State, and Local government sovereignty constraining policy space at every level of government to those policies that would not interfere with the expectations of profits of multinational corporations. Jobs, environmental, climate change, net neutrality, universal health care, minimum wage, constitutional issues, labor issues, regulatory issues, and many other foreseeable impacts of the TPP are all encompassed by this overall organizing theme.

In addition, the overwhelming majority of Americans care deeply about sovereignty issues. That concern is shared by all strands of TPP opposition, both radical and mainstream. TPP opposition can be wrapped in the flag.

The claim that the anti-TPP forces want to turn the world over to China and India by allowing them to dictate the terms of trade, can be opposed by the more truthful counter-claim that the TPP, in constraining American policy space, while leaving China and India free and with the continuing ability to use their unconstrained policy space to adjust to dynamic trends in trade, is actually turning the future to China, India, and other major powers that will not submit to the constraints in policy space inherent in American trade deals.

The theme of constrained policy space due to the ability of private corporate-courts to fine our government for Federal, State, and local policies they believe disturb the expectations of profits of particular multinationals, can easily be illustrated with all sorts of examples. For example, if the people of the United States elected a President who wanted to enact enhanced Medicare for All, then could the international tribunals deprived of business by such a decision collect from the US government for lost profits?

What if a local government raised the miniumum wage from $7.25 to $15.00, per hour would such “courts” be able to award subsidies to the multinationals who would now have to increase their wages to that level? What if the local governments mandated that corporations operating within a local jurisdiction has to provide a full package of fringe benefits to all their workers? Would that make the US financially liable for those costs?

And on and on. Use your imaginations, can you think of any government legislation of consequence that wouldn’t impact some multinational’s expectation of profits, and consequently make the US subject to fines?

Playing this game of hypotheticals has been attacked by TPP proponents as engaging in fantasy. But what is the rule in the TPP agreement that would exclude any impact we can think of from the purview of these private courts?

Until we have such a rule that can make clear the limits of the constraints on US sovereignty inherent in the TPP and a procedure for adjudicating these limits that is independent of the discretion of the private courts themselves, we would not even know what the limits of the policy constraints being imposed on the US by the TPP are. And until we do know what these limits are, we cannot say for sure that there are any substance objections of the TPP, from adjustments to negative job impacts to adjustments to climate change impacts and everything in between, that won’t fit into the general objection of constraints on sovereignty and government policy space. And that’s why I think the sovereignty issue should be the overarching theme that unites us all in opposition to the TPP.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. TG

    Yes well said. We must make this a major fight.

    Already we are having to overturn our laws requiring that meat be labelled with the country of origin. Now maybe it’s a good idea to label meat with the country of origin, and maybe it’s not, but the key is that Americans don’t get to decide that – foreign corporate lawyers do.

    Also, soon Mexican trucks driven by Mexican drivers will soon be operating freely on US roads. Now maybe commercial Mexican truck licenses are are good as US ones – and maybe they aren’t – the point is that the United States no longer has the power to set standards for who can or cannot drive big trucks on our roads. Even natural ‘free traders’ can be made to see how bad that is.

    So when you go to an HMO, how long before you are seen by a contract physician whose training was in Pakistan? Maybe Pakistani doctors will be as good as ours – maybe not – but we won’t have the power to make that decision.

    The main thing is going to be overcoming the corporate media blackout, and avoiding being distracted by gay marriage or the latest random ISIS video…

    1. david

      So the TPP debacle is coming to make it all much, much worse:

      “The origin of the meat was not clear. According to Xinhua, however, the meat typically was shipped to Hong Kong, then taken to >>>Vietnam<<<, where traders would smuggle it across the border to China without declaring it with customs officials or undergoing the required entry-exit inspection and quarantine. Some of the meat was found stamped with packing dates going back to the 1970s"

      1. jrs

        The thing is I still won’t buy meat without knowing where it came from, I’ll only buy it when I can strictly know the origins period.

        1. david

          two weeks ago the bill was passed and Obama signed it to remove country of origin for meat – its over already –

          so you are becoming a Vegetarian?

          1. jrs

            Well it’s possible to get meat and know the farm it comes from, so there’s a reasonable chance you know where it’s from. No, no the last thing I wanted was an argument about vegetarianism, but I will say I try to eat some vegetarian meals.

          2. different clue

            Shit meat for the masses will have its place of origin unstated. Shinola meat for the classes will proudly proclaim its place of origin. If you live in a food desert or a food junkyard, shitmeat is all you will get regardless. But if you live in a food jungle or a food rain forest, you will be able to buy shinolameat if you are prepared to spend the money.

            You can bet that ex-President Obama plans to buy only the shiniest of shinola meat. As to “his” people in the slum-ghettoes of Inner City America? I suppose he will be content to think of them eating shitmeat if he even thinks of them at all. And yet even given that, they would vote for him all over again by 90% margins if he could run for a Third Term.

    2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      These trade deals are our declarations of dependence; our surrender of sovereignty! Whoever thinks differently needs to list the limits of the reach of ISDS corporate tribunals specified in the agreements and the mechanisms for enforcing those limits. Right! There are none!

    3. different clue

      Natural free traders would say that some road accidents are a price worth paying in order to be able to fire every American truck driver and abolish the Teamsters Union and have every truck in this country driven by Mexican drivers at Mexican wages. That’s what being a natural free trader is all about.

      1. different clue

        In other words, it will become clear in this country that there is no “we” in this country. There is only “use” versus “them”. One side will win by crushing the other side into utter submission or out of existence. Which side will win by making the other side lose?

        1. Ulysses

          Here’s a senator, Ron Wyden- the-income-gap from Oregon, who deserves to lose, even before the next round of elections!

          I don’t know how quickly we will devolve into a total neo-feudal nightmare here in the U.S., but the cloture vote that Ron Wyden-the-income-gap delivered this week was a huge step in that direction. :(

          1. different clue

            If the No Free Trade movement wants to win eventually, it will have to start by destroying its visible and symbolic-as-well-as-real enemies. That means that the No Free Trade movement would have to go much further than just getting Wyden removed from office. It would have to be able to boycott any private sector or public sector job-place that Wyden went to with such ferocity that any entity which would hire Wyden would be forced to fire Wyden to assure its own survival as an entity.

            Wyden would have to have his life in America so substantially destroyed that he would be forced into exile in some other country. By strictly legal means of course.
            Anything less would set a less-than-instructive example, and anything less would reveal the No Free Trade movement lacking the strength needed to crush and “exterminate” its enemies . . . . which is the only possible way to reach the goal of crushing and exterminating Free Trade itself in the long run.

            1. Toivos

              What is this ” No Free Trade movement” you speak of? This sounds so 19th century. Is this an effort to undermine the efforts of many of us to protect our sovereignty on issues of local land use, food safety, worker rights, environmental rights, and many other issues. None of us accept your designation of our work.

              1. different clue

                Well come up with a better designation, then. If you think I am conspiring to “undermine the efforts of many of us” to etc. etc., then you are too dumm to think at all.

                And too long-term memory-challenged to remember anything that I have written here over the last few years.

          2. Oregoncharles

            I just signed, but Idon’t think we can recall federal officials. Worth a try, I suppose. Might worry him if you get a lot of signatures.

            As I stated below, there will be a campaign by the Pacific Green Party to unseat him next year.

            You can contact us via the website,

  2. spring texan

    I partly agree, in that the focus on ‘jobs’ has been misguided and that these courts can unite left and right in opposition. I disagree because the ordinary non-political person isn’t going to be motivated.

    What needs to be emphasized more, IMO, is that this will raise drug prices both worldwide and at home. People will be gouged and some will die and more will suffer because of higher drug prices. THAT is an issue ordinary people care about. It can be pointed out that Doctors Without Borders and the generic drug industry both oppose TPP. The line should be less that a vote for TPP is a vote against national sovereignty, and more that a vote for TPP is a vote for higher drug prices.

    1. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      I’m not suggesting that we ignore or fail to emphasize issues that ordinary people don’t care about. But 1) “ordinary people” vary in the issues they care most about and we need a unifies approach to the communications problem. And 2) if you think “ordinary people” don’t care about the independence and sovereignty of the United States, then I think you’re sadly mistaken.

  3. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    Obama’s legacy: An even bigger corporate whore and turncoat than Bill Clinton.

      1. scott

        TPP and Obama were hatched about the same time. He was put in office to make it happen (Obamacare was a test case).
        If having a presidential election in 2016 would cost some multi-national their “expected profits”, would we have to cancel it. I guess we’ll find out.

    1. different clue

      Well . . . apparently he was never a “turncoat”. He was a corporate agent and upper class warrior right from the start.

  4. tegnost

    Thanks for your effort, looks like we’re in for a protracted “negotiation” .This am i’m musing upon the possibility that the dems think they can run on saving us from the worst of the trade agreements, claiming inevitability and then saying we can’t leave all this power in repub hands…

    1. Steven

      You are crediting them with too much honesty and imagination. The more likely response is the one they used in explaining their vote for the 2003 Iraq invasion: “We didn’t know”

      1. tegnost

        I think it’s pretty dishonest to pass the bill then claim it’s so bad only they can fix it, and I expect to hear that. I still field the response ” but the repubs are worse” but I think the dems are running out of ammo on this point.

      2. hunkerdown

        Imagination? Like they haven’t run that play before several times in the past 20 years? What other possible purpose would a 6-year TPA have, other than to allow the Democratic Party to guarantee their patrons’ interests through shiny happy “bipartisanship” with no citizen recourse?

        Not knowing well and respecting the power of one’s adversary is a reliable way to get curbstomped by them.

  5. JTMcPhee

    One thought on all this: In my law school course on environmental law, the prof was a Chicago School joint degree holder whose CV included taking part in representing “the public” in the US. v. SCRAP case, He wanted an economistical analytical approach to all the various parts of “environmental law” that we looked at, NEPA, Clean Air, Clean Water, Endangered Species and the procedural rules and games that affected practice and policy.

    One Socratic case he put us to expounding on was to posit a beach, where beachgoers congregated to enjoy the salt air, quiet, and other hedonic values. Along comes a big bruiser of a dude with a boom box, smoking a great big cheap cigar, plunks down his blanket and umbrella in the middle of things, and the question presented was how much the people who were already there had to pay the dude to turn off or at least turn down his boom box, and how much they had to pay him to extinguish his cigar. Various schemas for valuing the “cost” of getting Dude to modify his behavior were presented.

    The prof disallowed any challenge to the setup: that the initial assignment of “rights” in this scam was to the ass___e who stomped into the settled scene on the sand, not to the people who just wanted “quiet enjoyment” of the beachfront. This whole “trade rights” setup is exactly the same loading of the dice. The assumption is that Big Corporations, with their equivalents of nasty cigars and loud music have the “rights” to invade occupied space and do whatever they damn want, and we the people, who are on the beach (in several senses), have to pay them not to crap on the sand and all that jazz.

    Silly rhetorical question: Why do people who are all attuned to their “rights” to marry whomever they want and have whatever guns and ammo they desire and inhale and ingest whatever mind-altering substances they care to and not be shot by cops for a song, why do these people, who span the spectrum of citizens, not get it, that the assignment of rights is happening, is being done by their rulers, and happens by their silence or at least full-mope, ineffectual “petitioning,” “Please, please don’t beat us so hard and so often?”

    What kind of outcomes do we, the non-corporate persons, want from our political economy? What outcomes will we do something more to realize, more than just study how the Juggernaut operates, and actually take action to effectuate? The thieves, scammers and robbers apparently know what they want, pretty clearly and specifically. Without the same degree of clarity on “our” side, what chance of change for our better?

    1. jrs

      It’s the opposite of the Universal Declaration of human rights which grants rights to actual people not corporations. But to discuss that is to discusses philosophies and ideologies. Which is what we can use come the revolution, but …

      Aren’t there legally binding conditions many signatories have signed off on already in the current world?

      Aren’t many countries (not the U.S. but yes Canada and the UK) signatories and thus legally bound by the “International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”, which contains things like:
      ‘Right to health is an inclusive right extending not only to timely and appropriate health care but also to the underlying determinants of health, such as access to safe and potable water and adequate sanitation, an adequate supply of safe food, nutrition and housing, healthy occupational and environmental condition”

      Basically no corporations do not have a right to poison the water supply etc.. Now I know they do do so. But much of this is probably illegal for countries that have signed such human rights agreements. Also some countries constitutions are also based on such ideas. So? Well maybe it can be legally challenged on the basis of international law. That would be good. But at least it lays bare the hypocrisy of saying many countries must obey the trade agreements because international law, when international law that guarantees human rights is ignored. Further delegitimize. They want us to think they act under cover of law, we all know they act under the principle of “might makes right” and it’s corollary the reverse golden rule (he who has the gold makes the rules). Lay it bare. The law is whatever the powers that be say it is today. If they don’t like it they ignore it, if they like it they enforce it.

    2. Ulysses

      “What kind of outcomes do we, the non-corporate persons, want from our political economy? What outcomes will we do something more to realize, more than just study how the Juggernaut operates, and actually take action to effectuate?”

      Excellent questions! I think that we will never find out if we constrain ourselves to coloring within the lines drawn by the very juggernaut that is so clearly determined to enslave us! The slow motion corporate coup d’état has been won by the other side, already. We need to stop wasting our energies pretending that this current regime is any way legitimate, and constantly expressing shocked surprise when Lucy still doesn’t let good ol’ Charlie Brown kick that football! We need to resist this illegitimate regime in every possible way.

      Of course, if writing stern letters to the editor, calling, e-mailing, etc. the corporate “representatives” who pretend to represent us in D.C. floats your boat, please enjoy yourselves! It can’t hurt anything. What does hurt the urgent requirement for rapid, radical destruction of the vampire squid’s power– is to continue the pretense that sending money to, or joining do-gooder organizations (that are determined never to leave the veal pen) will make a difference in time to avert bio-collapse!

      Shorter rant: more Boots Riley, less Al Sharpton!

      1. Gio Bruno

        We need to resist this illegitimate regime in every possible way.

        I would suggest action (overt/covert) that has financial consequence, then “denoument (French) by 1000 cuts.

  6. Ned Ludd

    Coburn and DeMint used to tie up legislation – after cloture – by repeatedly introducing motions to suspend the rules of cloture.

    TPA opponents also never filibustered the old-fashioned way, using Rule XIX.

    Under Rule XIX of the Senate, senators who have been recognized to speak may do so for as long as they wish and cannot be forced to cede the floor or even interrupted without their consent, according to the Congressional Research Service.

    That was traditionally how a filibuster was conducted, but that notion has changed.

    Once a senator starts speaking, there is no way to stop them, except to wait them out. When Firestone writes, “there can be no resort to the filibuster” for upcoming votes on TPP, the TTIP, the TiSA; I assume he is only referring to the modern non-talking filibuster.

    1. Fair Economist

      A talking filibuster, however, is only for show. Nobody can talk forever, and really one person can’t even talk long enough to even seriously threaten McConnell’s scheduling. It has rhetorical, informational, and symbolic purposes – Rand has used to to good effect on two occasions – but it’s not going to stop TPP. It would be nice to see somebody try it though, for exactly those purposes (Senatorial Presidential candidates: hint, hint?)

      1. Ned Ludd

        Here are two times a senator could filibuster:

        • Motion to proceed to consider
        • Motion to end debate

        If two senators were to filibuster each step, that would be four filibuster opportunities. The news of Senate gridlock could help inform the public about the TPP, and this month’s re-vote would be hard to schedule, given the threat of another series of filibusters.

        It would be moment of truth for the putative opposition: no backroom dealing and rotating heroes and villains. Put in time to grind the Senate down, to whatever extent is possible.

        1. Ulysses

          [T]he putative opposition” Yes! The notion that more than half-a-dozen (I’m being generous here) U.S. senators are anything less than completely slavish, in their eagerness to strengthen the rule of the kleptocrats, is risible.

          1. Ned Ludd

            A vote is a push of a button. An op-ed can be written by an intern. It is all backroom dealing between the rotating villains and the rotating heroes.

            How do you “create a tension in the mind” of these senators, who fashion themselves TPP opponents, but value their status among the elite too much to inconvenience their respectable colleagues?

            The soi–disant opposition in the Senate needs to demonstrate good will by throwing every spanner into the works. Just study the Republican playbook from their days in the minority. Anything less is theater.

  7. Kokuanani

    I think “laughing stocks” is too kind and gentle a term for these traitors, and I hope they’re greeted with harsh language as they seek re-election. Jim Dean’s “let them rot” seems to set the right tone.

    Unfortunately, voters don’t pay enough attention to “get the joke” and make them laughing stocks. A few “Charlie Brown, Lucy and the football” editorial cartoons ought to help things along. I’m surprised that none have appeared.

    1. pretzelattack

      unfortunately, i think they will be greeted with lobbyist jobs, or some other jobs in politics.

      1. Vatch

        In addition to lobbying, investment banking is one of the fields towards which ex Congress critters gravitate. Phil Gramm and Eric Cantor are examples. Rahm Emanuel reversed the usual pattern when he became an investment banker after leaving the Clinton White House, but before being elected to office.

      2. different clue

        How big could the Forced Fair Trade movement become? Big enough to mobilize and direct the efforts of tens of millions of people? Enough people to make a difference if they all targetted and boycotted certain companies which hired Obamatrade Democrats until those companies fired those Obamatrade Democrats? Big enough to make those Obamatrade Democrats unemployable anywhere in the U.S.? Strong enough to make life so bad for those Obamacrats that they find themselves forced to leave the country and go into exile somewhere else?

    2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      I think the action needs to be at the primary level. We need to defeat turncoats in primaries in the Spring of 2016. Don Beyer and Gerry Connolly are really people who need to be beat in in the VA 8th and 11th But if they get through the primaries then we’ll be stuck with their neoliberal BS for another two years.

      1. Dwight

        Beyers’ claim to his constituents that there was “confusion” about what he termed “mediation” between investors and states shows that he is either too dishonest or too ignorant to be my Congressman.

      2. Oregoncharles

        Not necessarily. There remains the possibility of left-wing spoiler campaigns, to deny them re-election. This is exactly what the Green Party is contemplating in Oregon. Granted, this is really just us doing our job, which is to offer a real alternative to the duopoly and then do our d…edest to get them elected. In this case, the Trade Traitors (FOUR in Oregon – I assume because they think they have safe seats) have hung political targets on themselves and alienated key allies, so it’s a rare opportunity.

        Granted, this strategy comes at a price; most do. There’s a danger of perpetuating Republican control of congress. In the first place, I don’t think that makes any real difference, as the Trade Traitors just demonstated – the current “trade” agreements are the last proof we need of the total collusion between the wings of the 2-Party. In the second, we accept no responsibility: plurality voting and the “spoiler” role that comes with it – to a point – are not our doing. If they want to stick us with that role, we should make the most of it.

        There’s a deeper reason. Politics is a trust arrangement – we “trust” them to represent us. Trust arangements are inherently fragile; if you don’t punish betrayal, not only will you be screwed, the whole system will break down. This princiiple actually shows up in biology. It’s essential to punish betrayal.

        And finally, there’s another feature of plurality voting: the more candidates, the lower the threshold. If there are three, it’s possible to win with 34%, and so on. A recent Mexican election actually approached this: they had a tie at 38%. Clinton won the first time with only 42%. If we can convey the nature of the Democrats’ betrayal on this issue, as we need to do anyway, we may have a shot at a 3-way race; maybe we can get the Libertarians to help on the other side.

        It’s a rare opportunity. Major-party loyalty has been declining rapidly for years. Next year could be the year the system finally breaks.

        1. hunkerdown

          The House and Senate can change their rules any time they want, but for some odd reason “representative” elections have to be some g-d Cartesian good vs. evil blather.

          I hope next year is the year it all breaks. I don’t think the Democratic faithful will ever recognize that their own party and their own selves are the ones offering up rights to be held hostage.

        2. Waking Up

          I think the entire Congressional system has already broken down. Getting four Democratic Congressional members from the state of Oregon, a “blue” state, to vote AGAINST the wishes of the people and FOR the plutocrats and powerful is an “in your face…we rule” action to let the people know that. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that each of those four Congressional members has been promised a board membership, lucrative speaking engagements, or especially in the case of Wyden, a job as a Lobbyist (NIKE?) if they are removed from office.

          1. jrs

            It occurs to me those in blue states may have voted for it precisely because they were in blue states (they can be primaried but they don’t have R challengers). That’s a total breakdown (de-legitimization) in the idea of (2 party, “first past the post”) “representative” government, that even if the population is massively opposed in their state this stuff passes.

      3. Ulysses

        They are not “turncoats.” They are perfect representatives of the one neo-liberal ideology that unites both parties of our sham political duopoly. On this occasion, only 13 Ds were required to play the villain. If their corporate masters had required 22 to play that role, then 22 “turncoats” they would have had.

        This is why I was personally disappointed that Bernie Sanders chose to seek the D party nomination, since he, a man of far more integrity than most in D.C., thus perpetuates the insane delusion that the D.s are somehow less beholden to Goldman Sachs than the R.s.

        It would have been far better to have followed in the glorious footsteps of Eugene V. Debs and sought the presidency under the socialist banner!

        1. TedWa

          Umm, he wants to win and can win as a progressive democrat. Do we really have time to wait for 3rd party acceptance with the dumbing down of America becoming so complete?

          1. hunkerdown

            Power has been defined as the ability to achieve planned outcomes. On the one hand, overriding the Party apparatus’ choice for POTUS is achieving a planned outcome. On the other hand, that’s about as far an outcome as could be planned, since there is broad awareness that the major parties aren’t interested in achieving any objectives but keeping the working-class industrious; they merely quibble over the correct optimum level of penury. As long as Sanders is accountable to the Democratic Party, he will be compromised.

            Fortunately, Party employment is relatively plastic, and at least in theory, he could kick the party to the curb just after the results are in.

          2. Oregoncharles

            Except for McGovern, who wasn’t technically an insurrectionist, the last rebel candidate to actually win the nomination was Robert Kennedy – literally moments before he was gunned down. How plausible is that as a coincidence?

            I still think it’s implausible, at best, that Democrats will nominate someone who isn’t even a Democrat. Granted, Hillary has already been proven a very weak campaigner. The only thing the party apparatus really cares about is keeping control – losing elections is a small price to pay.

            If the Republicans can cheat, so can the Democrats – indeed, the notorious big-city machines were mostly Democrats. I think they will if they need to. Watch for it.

            But then, I am biassed: I’d rather the Greens didn’t have to run against Sanders.

      1. John

        I do believe the unions already said, just kidding about trying to take you down, we got your backs even if you vote for Fast Track and the TPP.

        1. Ulysses

          Really?!! Link, or quotation, or something more substantial than your professed “belief” to support this??!!

          1. John

            Dems still steamed over labor’s trade attacks
            Even liberal allies say unions’ tactics were over the top.
            By LAUREN FRENCH | 6/18/15 7:12 AM EDT

            A spokesperson for the AFL-CIO declined to comment, but union officials have argued previously that they needed to send a message to Democrats who were considering voting against workers on a major bill.
            Leaders with the union told reporters on Tuesday, however, that the group won’t make opposition to fast-track authority a condition of its endorsement in next year’s elections.


            Yeah, “Labor” folds as usual.

  8. Jerry Denim

    Right on Joe! I think you’ve got the right idea with this new line of attack.

    Attempting to debate the TPP on the grounds of ‘Free Trade’, labor standards, unions, environmental protection etc. is playing ball on your enemy’s terms and frankly they’re good terms because as important as you, I, and the readers of Naked Capitalism may find those issues they just don’t play well down south or in the heartland.

    If the TPP is going to be defeated we’re going to need more Republican votes. American sovereignty and the potential for foreign corporations to meddle in local, state, and federal affairs through the TPP’s ISDS mechanism is exactly the type of thing that gets the Tea party/Republican base fired up. They could care less about dolphins and child labor in Vietnam, but the idea of a bunch of rich foreign assholes using kangaroo corporate courts to tell Amuricans what to do?? Hell no! Freedom Fries baby!!!

    Don’t let the architects of the TPP frame the debate. Make the debate about all of the secret stuff in the TPP Obama DOESN’T want you talking about. Debating the merits of free trade is a trap, its a swamp of ideas, false data, and carefully crafted talking points generated by shills and hacks. It’s a great and interesting debate, but do we want to debate or do we want to win? Free Trade is not only a swamp of ideas and a debate that goes nowhere fast, it’s also a red herring. Why the proponents of the TPP want the war to be fought on the idealogical battleground of Free Trade should be obvious, let’s stop playing along. It’s all of the other top secret, unconstitutional, sovereignty-killing stuff that is going to turn ALL of America against the TPP and that’s where the fight should be waged. We CAN win the argument on that playing field. The scary stuff in the TPP was classified for a reason. Time to use it as a bludgeon.

    1. Ping

      I agree the broad debate needs accurate reframing away from the ‘swamp of ideas, false data, red herrings’ and sophistry of so called Free Trade.

      If TPP passes, I see it endlessly legally challenged as unconstitutional when the terrible degradation of public interests become real.

      Do other commentors here think, as I do, that paying for TAA by cutting medicare is actually a bonus for elite power’s goal of degrading the program??

      1. Jerry Denim

        “Do other commentors here think, as I do, that paying for TAA by cutting medicare is actually a bonus for elite power’s goal of degrading the program?”

        Of course it is. Obama and his “grand bargin” congress critters must be having a good laugh about that one. ‘Here American people, have a little more “help”, ha, ha, ha!’

        Remember the health insurance and pharmaceutical lobby were two of the main players in drafting the TPP.

      2. John

        It was cut down to $250 million from $700 million.
        Did JPMorganChase burn through that in a morning in 2008?

      1. Jerry Denim

        Not as well as you but I couldn’t resist piling on. Thanks for your hard work and advocacy on this issue. It’s great to see you staying positive and keeping up the fight. Anything as evil and potentially unpopular as the TPP can be defeated with enough daylight and the right messaging to marshall the public outrage.

    2. djrichard

      When in doubt, people default to what they trust. And they trust “free trade”. My congressman says he is voting for TPP because he’s pro free trade.

      People who could get riled up because they’re knowledgeable of the downsides of TPP are erring on the side of “free trade”. You don’t know how many times I’ve seen Ricardo referred to.

      It would be one thing to concede this space on “free trade” if that was a strength for them. But it’s not, it’s actually a weakness. By definition, free trade does not result in trade imbalances. We’ve been sold a bill of goods.

      They don’t want free trade. That would be anathema to what they really want, which is the ability to outsource their supply chains to other countries. They wouldn’t be able to do that if actual free trade was occurring. Instead they need to let foreign countries subvert that through trade imbalances (through currency manipulation). They don’t want a level playing field as represented by free trade. They want a distorted playing field to create a few winners and a lot of losers.

      I’m sure Ricardo would have agreed wholeheartedly that free trade is being subverted with what’s going on (currency manipulation and trade imbalances). The left should be claiming the “free trade” banner and should not be letting the TPP proponents claim it anymore. Their claim is fraudulent.

      1. Jerry Denim

        “When in doubt, people default to what they trust. And they trust “free trade”. My congressman says he is voting for TPP because he’s pro free trade.

        People who could get riled up because they’re knowledgeable of the downsides of TPP are erring on the side of “free trade”. You don’t know how many times I’ve seen Ricardo referred to.”


        So listen to Joe and don’t base your arguments against the TPP on “free trade”. Don’t let the other side twist your mind into a pretzel. They are intellectually dishonest and they don’t care. As right as you are about ‘Free Trade’ being terrible for the American Economy it’s still a losing argument just AS YOU yourself described. If you insist on debating the merits of free trade you are playing your enemy’s game. “Unconstitutional” and unauthorized give-away of American sovereignty to foreign corporations are total non-starters and undebatable items. Show me one pol willing to go on record against the Constitution and defend their unconstitutional prerogative as an elected representative of the people to give away their constitutionally bestowed powers to govern to foreign corporations. If you want to debate endlessly go ahead and keep up the ‘free-trade-sucks’ rhetoric. If you want to shut down the TPP I suggest you go with the logically unassailable and completely undebatable ‘unconstitutional’ and ‘national sovereignty’ route. If you need a little icing on top go with ‘secrecy’. Republicans are still smarting over the quick and dirty cram-down of TARP and the Affordable Care Act. The TPP is a thousand times worse.

        1. djrichard

          Free Trade is not terrible for the US economy. Free Trade if anything is benign.

          What is happening with our trading partners is not “Free Trade”. The TPP proponents are getting away with wrapping themselves in the “flag” of “Free Trade”, because nobody is challenging them as making a fraudulent claim. The Left should be wrapping itself in the “flag” of Free Trade instead.

          1. Jerry Denim

            You still seem to be missing my point. The left too frequently mixes up idealism and politics. The right has no such delusions and is unencumbered by things such as ethics and principles when they set out to achieve a political objective. The United States becoming a signatory to the TPP and the TPP becoming the law of land here in the USA is one such objective. Do you want to stop the TPP or do you want to score semantic debating points in an argument your opponent doesn’t really even care about as long as you get bogged down debating while he makes the TPP law and then spikes it in your face?

            I really get what you’re saying about Free Trade but now is not the time to attempt to reframe the debate around free trade or claim any ‘banners’. Winning banners, flag wrapping and debating points don’t count for shit this week. If you want to wage war against tyranny and Free Trade the name of the game this week is to win Republican hearts, minds, and nay votes. The way to do it is with the talking points laid out by Mr. Firestone. They’re logically unassailable and undebatable, also topics near and dear to conservative hearts, hence their superior nature for achieving political objectives.

            Either you wanna stop the TPP or you wanna debate. You decide for yourself.

              1. Ulysses

                Good point! I heartily endorse all of these efforts to try and work within the existing system to derail TPP, TTIP, TISA, etc. I would hope, however, that people are prepared for the very, very likely outcome that all of their efforts will be to no avail.

                Winning debates is a good thing, yet allowing the kleptocrats to do as they please, after they have “lost” public opinion is a familiar pattern here in the U.S. Huge majorities regularly tell pollsters they favor expanding, not cutting Social Security. Even larger majorities favor the punishment of corporations who outsource jobs, move income offshore to evade taxes, etc. Has the retirement age gotten younger? Has anyone in D.C. put a stop to Walmart claiming billions of profits in Luxembourg, where they don’t have a single store?

                I know that many people of good will really are trying to make the system better. Yet organizing marches of porta-potties (h/t Lambert) has not gotten us very far. I think our attitude needs to shift towards active resistance against an illegitimate regime, and move away from continuing the charade that “the system works.”

                1. Skippy

                  Good point old friend about so many corporations being anti capitalistic and anti social too boot.

                  Skippy… amazing what a dash of Bernays can do for image.

      2. Oregoncharles

        The use of Ricardo is both false and dishonest. Ricardo proved that trade is mutually advantageous via “comparative advantage” IF, and ONLY IF, capital and labor are not free to move between countries. Does ANYONE think that’s true today? Yet “comparative advantage” is used to justify the free movement of capital – which is demonstrably very destructive.

        Economists either know this and are being dishonest, or they’re incompetent – it’s a foundational text, and the refutation came out long ago. In practice, they’re whores – granted this may be unfair to a relatively honest profession.

        Granted, this argument is probably only useful before academic audiences. Other people just don’t care, and shouldn’t. It may be more useful to say that this is NOT “free trade” – not that there is or can be such a thing. Loss of sovereignty is a key argument,but there are many, and there’s no point leaving any out if you don’t have to.

        1. jrs

          We all know there’s plenty of free movement of capital as is. Free movement of labor. What was the status of the trade agreements rumored to be opening the flood gates of immigration anyway (as per Senator Sessions)? Labor: free to move anywhere and work for pennies a day?

        2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

          well, once again, as someone who has piled on the arguments (see the 23-point indictment), I do think that doing that can be valuable. However, it is much less valuable if the points against are not prioritized and organized in a framework. to the extent that the opposition has pushed a framework thus far, that framework has had jobs and the economy as the centerpiece.

          This is a mistake for the broad mass movement we seek. The centerpiece we ought to emphasize should be the sovereignty and continued independence of the United States, because that issue is at the center of concern for the broadest swathe of the American people when sovereignty is under threat.

      3. Adams

        I doubt that many people remember that Ricardo was married to Lucille Ball and also played her husband on I Love Lucy. How many of them know anything at all about that other Ricardo? How many liberals know that “even the (classically) liberal-economist” Paul Krugman has occasionally expressed cautious concerns about the results of “free trade” agreements he supported in the past?

        Thank you John, for the most revealing quote of this thread: “A spokesperson for the AFL-CIO declined to comment, but union officials have argued previously that they needed to send a message to Democrats who were considering voting against workers on a major bill.
        Leaders with the union told reporters on Tuesday, however, that the group won’t make opposition to fast-track authority a condition of its endorsement in next year’s elections.”

        If organized labor is not going to hold the quislings’ feet to the fire, political resistance is futile, Quixotic. Add to that the fact that Bennett, for instance, one of the “three immediately vulnerable ones in 2016,” doesn’t even have a primary challenger. Or a Republican opponent. He’s a lock.
        I understand that the point is to make “sovereignty” rather than jobs and wages the political issue, but it’s easily deflated, because the voting public is generally unaware of the issues involved and only very superficially aware of the TPP. Should we withdraw from the UN? All treaties that bind the US to particular specific behaviors and processes? Surely not.

        I agree that sovereignty issues are the Achilles heel of TPP, but not politically. The strongest means to challenge this monstrosity is legally, through the courts, using arguments similar to those used against US membership in the International Criminal Court. Very generally, “Because the ICC is inconsistent with fundamental constitutional protections, the federal government is without authority to ratify the treaty absent a constitutional amendment.”

        Process issues, i.e. especially secrecy around the specifics of the agreement and “fast track,” are another attack point easily understood by the public. However, as soon as the discussion gets into the intricacies of congressional rules and process, and acronyms representing different bills, eyes glaze over. Ironically, in this case, the more accurate information available to the public, the less engagement we can expect.

    3. different clue

      Are pwogwessives and wadicals prepared to work with Senator Sessions and Glen Beck and Rush Limbaugh if necessary? Are pwogwessives and wadicals weady to follow the leadership of Sessions and Beck and Limbaugh and etc. if necessary if that is the only way to win over enough Republicans to exterminate Obamatrade? If they aren’t, then they will get the Obamatrade they deserve. Unfortunately, so will the rest of us.

      1. jrs

        They might question the reliability of those they ally with, and this strikes me as reasonable, to avoid nasty surprises mostly. If you disagree with someone’s ideology but you know them to actually have a consistent ideology and principles, it’s one thing. So Senator Sessions maybe.

        But Rush Limbaugh? Doesn’t Rush literally take talking points from the GOP? Isn’t there actual collusion there with the GOP itself and not just ideological alliance? So how do we know the GOP won’t get him to change his mind if it was any threat, afterall the GOP wants this deal? How do you even ally yourself with people that are bought and paid for and will do what their paymasters ask? It’s a contract written in the sand.

        1. different clue

          He has rejected Obamatrade on his radio show, much as the Rparty establishment supports Obamatrade. Rush’s Tea Party fan base is already getting agitated into a state of opposition to Rparty supporters of Obamatrade. So he certainly is not selling the Rparty talking points in this case.

  9. linda amick

    Having worked in the private sector for almost 30 years and having close contact with the financial operating procedures which largely were about pushing the legal envelope enabling more spurious revenue calls and the associated “do what you are told” mentality among top executives, I say that the US is moving quickly towards a corporate owned totalitarianism.
    The whole “compensation for loss of future profits” concept will be construed in a myriad of ways to undermine all rights of individuals.
    Corporate rule engenders profit seeking over all considerations including moral, ethical and legal.

    1. Martin Finnucane

      Late capitalism, found in its most developed form in the United States, eliminates individual, community, and ultimately national sovereignty, but maximizes individual freedom understood in a particular way. The freedom we enjoy is the ‘liberty’ conceived by Hobbes: action on one’s last impulse without interference. This Hobbesian freedom is an integral part of late (or ‘market’) capitalism’s process, to the extent capital maintains itself by increasingly colonizing areas of human life, down to the individual human body. Capital controls impulses by colonizing the body itself, with processed food and high fructose corn syrup as the contemporary equivalent of “guns, germs and steel.” Capital then propagandizes this freedom in the form of popular culture. There is a filtering mechanism in mass cultural production, by which most glimmerings of artistic consciousness are weeded out well before the artist reaches a mass audience – hence hip-hop is at once the most revolutionary and the most regressive of cultural forms, with social consciousness at the street level transmogrified by the magic of the markets into endless (and endlessly boring) paeans to hyper-individualism, conspicuous consumption, etc. at the record store.

      By the same token, individual, family, community and national control of production and consumption – sovereignty – are eliminated, as sovereignty is vested entirely in an external and absolute sovereign. This is Hobbes’ Leviathan, or the Antichrist of an even older tradition, or market democracy in the contemporary variant. We enact rituals of freedom and enjoyment, without having any control over the conditions that support and define such freedom and enjoyment. Every citizen has the unfettered right to consume as he or she sees fit, but with no control (outside of a meaningless, pre-defined choice) over the mode of consumption itself. Who among us actually knows what gets put in our mouths? We all get the choice of driving a Lincoln vs. a Subaru (say), but what about the choice of not being a slave to the car culture?

      Our freedom is a (capital L) Libertarian freedom, a Hayekian freedom. As is well known, that strain of thought has been comfortable posing its market freedom within the context of savage political repression. The result is a ‘free’ Chile, a ‘free’ Britain, a ‘free’ world.

      No doubt the TPP will be praised as a great step forward for human freedom. And, in the lights of neoliberalism, that praise is warranted. Slavery is freedom – the basic formula of totalitarianism.

      1. Jerry Denim

        Hip-Hop is still alive, subversive, offensive, and politically relevant. Just don’t expect to hear it on BET or a Clear-Channel radio station. Go and check out the latest Run The Jewels album, although you may have to use this thing called internet because I’m not sure record stores exist anymore. (just kidding!) On a song about police brutality that connects the dots between our current police state and a police force composed primarily of PTSD War on Terror vets who were told it was OK to torture, there’s a throw away line- “the only thing closing faster than our coffins be the factories”. There’s more truth in that one line regarding ‘free trade’ than in a thousand Harvard Business school lectures or a million hours of cable news.

        Subaru or Lincoln? You can always move to New York or you can move the hell out of the US if you don’t fancy driving. I made it 12 years in New York without a car and was perfectly happy with just my bike, my feet and public transit before I moved to LA. Not a nice choice if you’re attached to Oklahoma though.

        1. Trent

          I live in pittsburgh and walk home everyday from work, its four miles. Take the bus in the morning. You do have a choice with regards to a car, or any of this “consumer” crap. People will think you’re crazy, so really you are choosing to position yourself outside of the mainstream. But telling this to readers of naked capitalism is like preaching to the choir.

          1. Jerry Denim

            Good for you Trent! That’s really cool man. I have friends here in LA, the land of carsprawlopolis, that manage to get by without cars but I’m not that hardcore anymore. Like you said, people have choices although they may not be considered conventional or easy.

  10. Gareth

    In states that have a ballot initiative process for the amendment of the state constitution I would suggest a vote on an amendment that would prohibit any level of state government from recognizing penalties assessed by ISDS panels. Make the Federal government force the issue through the courts.

    1. Jess

      That’s a helluva an idea. I believe that there is something over 20 states where citizens might pull that off, including the entire West Coast. (Waving to Murray, Wyden, Cantwell, and DiFi.) That would force the issue not only through the courts, but also put it front and center in the non-initiative states.

    2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

      My understanding is that under the agreements the tribunal/plaintiffs will have to collect their awards from the Federal government. This, in turn, should make the Federal Government attempt to pass legislation superceding the local and State laws which were objectionable to the multinationals. However, there are constitutional limits on the extent to which the Federal government can interfere with State governments and their local government offspring. See the 10th amendment.

      1. Oregoncharles

        Thanks for clarifying that. I’ve been wondering. I see it as a great opportunity for state/local level civil resistance: do as you please, stick the Feds with the bill, and let them sue if they can. Should be interesting when it gets to our “originalist” SCOTUS.

        If you accept MMT, the extra expense for the Feds is largely meaningless, especially since it goes overseas.

        1. Lambert Strether

          I’m not sure. Creating money for an utterly unproductive purpose just to send it overseas… Somebody smarter than me will have to work out the effects of that.

          Contrary to the misrepresentations put about by its detractors, MMT is not about “printing money.” It’s about the realities of fiat money (in place since the 70s since Nixon closed the gold window) and how to manage an economy using it.

          1. hunkerdown

            Would it be fair to say that MMT, through its apparent unwillingness to adjoin itself to a particular social order, has much to say about how *not* to manage a fiat money economy?

            1. skippy

              For my own 2c this is due to the agency clusterfook used to validate hard bimetallism arguments where MMT has zero claimed intrinsic agency e.g. makes no self evident burning bush arguments and puts the onus squarely on the quality of its management as a human tool user problem of a human concoction.

        2. Joe Firestone (LetsGetitDone)

          the money may be “meaningless” from a government solvency point of view because the government is a currency issuer, but from a broader point of view, large awards under these agreements would 1) provide much more financial wherewithal to large multinationals to inflate assets, 2) provide much more financial power to use to buy politicians and increase corporate domination, 3) paralyze activist government out of fear of such awards; and 4) be used by politicians who deny the realities of fiat monetary sovereignty as a rationalization for further austerity!

          1. John

            Plus they will be secret for 5 or 6 years after the ruling.

            We will be paying but we won’t know.

            There will just be less and less tax money for anything for the people.

            1. jrs

              There might be some kind of pure extortion play that could be made, where it’s not even about making governments pay for trying to protect people and planet (bad enough though that is) But where it’s just a way to get endless free government money.

              (because all that QE wasn’t enough …)

  11. J Bookly

    If the Pacific Northwest, or Texas, or any other state or group of states were to secede and form a new country, that new country would not be bound by U.S. laws and treaties, would it? Just sayin’.

    1. Oregoncharles

      Rereence: “Ecotopia” and “Ecotopia Emerging,” by Ernest Callenbach. It’s been thought of.

      Unfortunately, this was largely settled in 1865. “E. Emerging” is interesting on that point, though.

      1. different clue

        Unfortunately, Coastal pacifica is one of the regions of the country which is most pro Obamatrade to begin with. The great state of Boeing stands to make a fortune off of America’s misfortune if Obamatrade passes with Senator Murray’s help. And a lot of Boeingtonians will vote for Murray again beCAUSE of her support for Obamatrade, just like a lot of Pelosi’s silicon yuppies will vote for her again beCAUSE of her support for Obamatrade.

        If you want to see any seccession movements against Obamatrade, look to the embittered rustbelts and heartlands of this country . . . those places without a Seacoast.

        1. Oregoncharles

          I’ve been on this issue since the Battle in Seattle, a long time now. There’s plenty of anti-Obamatrade sentiment here (can’t speak for WA).

    2. different clue

      And the various Indian Nations which still have a Treaty Relationship with the United States of America are still pro-forma Sovereign Nations, right? And are therefor not bound by any Obamatrade which gets passed, right? What if millions of Americans were to renounce their American citizenship and take out citizenship in one or another Indian Treaty Nation?

  12. frosty zoom

    i don’t understand why this talk of democrats versus republicans still goes on.

    coke! pepsi!

    i mean, really.

    1. Lambert Strether

      If you want to create a strange bedfellows alliance to stop TPP, then you’d better know that Republicans and Democrats do have differences. If you want to split the pillars of the regime (as Gene Wolf calls them) then you had better know the strengths and weaknesses of those pillars. Malcolm X (I believe) calls conservatives wolves and liberals foxes. If, or since, you are dealing with a wild animal, you had better know which animal. If it’s 1789, and you want to keep your head, you’d better be able to distinguish Jacobin from Girondin, even if both are bourgeois parties. If you want the Democrats to go the way of the Whigs, then you’d better find out which Democrats will leave politics, and which one’s will become Lincoln’s Republicans.

      I hear this one-liner over and over again, and absent presented alternatives, it’s just lazy thinking and writing; instead of “Me too”-ism, “Not me”-ism.

      Of course, you could also advocate quietism, or you could advocate for… Well, absent organizational capability, we’re in Judy Garland “Let’s put on a show!” mode, right?

      1. frosty zoom

        unfortunately most of the previous distinguishing features of these two parties have disappeared, leaving us with scattered bickering over who gets to marry whom and whether we privatize everything or just 95% of it.

        also unfortunate is that so much political energy is spent debating these non-existing differences.

        at this point, working within the framework offered by these two parties will lead nowhere, at least on a federal and probably state level as well.

        and no, i don’t have any organizational capabilities but i feel that until both these corrupt organizations are recognized as the tools of oligarchy that they have become, and that they are in the most important aspects of their policies, identical, little progress towards social justice will be achieved.

        why would these 13 democratic senators be the laughing stocks of the republicans? they are heroes tonight and will be well compensated for their “bravery”.

    1. juliania

      Apologies, computer is playing games with the spelling of my name – I didn’t catch this one in time.

      1. Oregoncharles

        It’s creative.

        And thanks for the plug. Sanders supporters need to ask themselves: what do I do if/when Bernie DOESN’T get the nomination?

        We know what HE will do, but everybody else has to make a new set of decisions.

    2. purple

      Sanders will be useful for promoting things like free or affordable higher education. That would be a good thing. He’s not going to rock the boat about US exceptionalism and general imperial over reach though.

  13. Jill

    I think national sovereignty is a good point to argue. I would also include the secretive nature of the treaty itself. Why is it necessary to hide the contents of a treaty from the citizens of this nation? That doesn’t sound like a democracy to me.

    Both of these aspects of the shenanigans are offensive to many people on the left and right.

    1. hunkerdown

      As long as we’re playing in the sandbox of the WTO the US created, we’re all pretty much condemned to an Arbeit-macht-Frei existence, in our new social role as prime movers for the useless and insane.

  14. downunderer

    We need a good cartoonist to produce a picture of a crumpled Old Glory wrapped up in a chain whose links are clearly repeated sequences of the letters T P P .

    And another version with the Constitution crumpled under in a similar chain.

    Maybe a third with the Statue of Liberty likewise in that chain.

    In any case, the time for rational argument is over. It has all been said and only needs repeating and linking.

    We need strongly emotive visual imagery, FAST.

    1. downunderer

      P.S. This idea offered free of any copyright or other intellectual property restraint for the use of anyone who cares enough. But please act NOW.

      1. jrs

        The sole of a boot with the corporate flag (u.s. flag with corporate logos), to stomp on a human face forever of course.

        1. Jonf

          HP says the dems vow not to crack in the next government shutdown fight. They want to negotiate a fair plan. Nice mother f***kers. TPP is already a thing of the past. On to the next “fair” plan for the American people.

  15. casino implosion

    Greater North American Free Trade Zone here we come.

    I’ll be watching the whole clown and pony show from under my double-wide’s awning, drinking puncheon rum straight out the bottle.

  16. Steve H.

    Jeez, I love my Friends™, but right now all you have to do is wave a confederate flag and SQUIRREL!

  17. backwardsevolution

    Joe Firestone – great essay! “In addition, the overwhelming majority of Americans care deeply about sovereignty issues. That concern is shared by all strands of TPP opposition, both radical and mainstream. TPP opposition can be wrapped in the flag. […] And that’s why I think the sovereignty issue should be the overarching theme that unites us all in opposition to the TPP.”

    Perfection! Keep it simple. As soon as citizens start getting bogged down in details, they lose the “sovereignty” issue. Stress this above all else, wrapped in the flag.

  18. backwardsevolution

    Joe Firestone – “The claim that the anti-TPP forces want to turn the world over to China and India…”

    Can anyone assist?

    I read somewhere that 60% of all exports out of China were from U.S. multinationals. If this is anywhere near correct, then it is really the U.S. multinationals who have turned the world over to China. It’s been their own doing. There is absolutely no way in hell China could have ramped up to the extent she has all by herself. It would have taken her another hundred years if she tried to do it on her own. She needed a ton of assistance. Think about it. China has been totally engineered by U.S. multinationals. So I would stress this point (if my figures are correct).

    The U.S. multinational corporations are building these countries. They don’t care about sovereignty, about workers, only profits. I’ve read studies (don’t have them at my fingertips) stating that almost all of the products we buy are owned by a few hundred corporations. These corporations have tapped America dry, and they’re looking for greener pastures, new consumers (the parasites are looking for more food). Once China steers itself into a consumer country (which will take some more time), think of the consumers the multinationals will have.

    So I would stress that American politicians are owned by corporations, that these corporations are trying to sell out the United States in favor of building up other countries, that China, far from being an enemy, has and is in the back pocket of the United States corporations.

  19. Brooklin Bridge

    Many thanks to Joe for such excellent coverage and completely agree with this approach.

    One difficulty I see is that the traitors (to group them neatly if not a bit harshly – another term might be the establishment because the pro-“trade” deal forces are quite broad) are well aware of the truly ugly aspects of these deals -hence fast track – and do everything within their power to shift any negative discussion to exactly those areas, such as labor, that are the least harmful to the overall image. They have the microphone. If NPR/PBS constantly harps on labor protections, for instance, leaving it implicit that labor protections are the only thing in question -and are being addressed, it is difficult for us to control.

    True, when we speak to our Senators and Representatives, the issue of ISDS and its clear dangers to
    environment, health, etc., are the points to stress and I have done that (although mostly as part of my thanks for being steadfast as I’m from MA and am in theory preaching to the choir). But public perception isn’t generated from my calls to my congress critters, nor to my friends (those I can interest at all were either way ahead of me or quickly agree that 1)Secrecy, 2) Sovereignty/lack of representation, 3) repercussions (environment, etc) are the critical issues or obvious alarm-bell sticking points. Incidentally, that order of precedence is the impression I get from them though the impression is pretty tenuous since it is also my own opinion, though with a somewhat plastic sense of whether 1 should be 2 or remain 1.

    Of course for those who do have access to the microphone such as Warren, though she seems to have caught on, who read NC or other sites where Joe posts, and I’m sure many of them do, this message is spot on.

  20. Oregoncharles

    Update: the TAA just passed the House, so the Republicans passed up their opportunity to stick it to the Trade Traitors.

    Thus reconfirming the level of collusion between the major parties – when it comes to their masters’ interests.

Comments are closed.