Inspire Seattle: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Sat, May 7 at 6:30PM

InspireSeattle invites YOU to join us at our Social Forum: Saturday, May 7th at 6:30PM.

Main discussion topic for this evening: Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP): is this Asian trade agreement good or bad for America (and Americans)?

President Obama’s Office of the United States Trade Representative frames the TPP as “INCREASING AMERICAN EXPORTS, SUPPORTING AMERICAN JOBS”. Is this true? At what cost?

Obama announced the United States’ intention to participate in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) to conclude an ambitious, next-generation, Asia-Pacific trade agreement that “reflects U.S. economic priorities and values”. Obama states this will boost U.S. economic growth and support the creation and retention of high-quality American jobs by increasing exports in a region that includes some of the world’s most robust economies and that represents nearly 40 percent of global GDP. The US is negotiating the TPP with 11 other countries (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam). The TPP is the cornerstone of the Obama Administration’s economic policy in the Asia Pacific. As a group, the TPP countries are the largest goods and services export market of the United States. U.S. goods exported to TPP countries totaled $698 billion in 2013, representing 44 percent of total U.S. goods exports.

Clearly this proposed TPP has been a hot topic this election season, with some presidential candidates for it, some against it. (Hillary Clinton has been both for and against it!). On the “against” side, some candidates argue that this deal would mimic the effects of NAFTA by exporting jobs, lowering wages, and leading to greater income inequality. Even more, what has been left out of this conversation is the impact of the TPP on several aspects of our economy and legal system. The TPP increases the length of drug patents, limits our ability to regulate Wall Street, affects copyright laws and the internet, and as will be presented at the meeting, poses a serious threat to our ability to fight climate change. In this 5000 page document, the words “climate change” are not even mentioned. Instead, the deal grants corporations a powerful tool against our ability to fight climate change. This tool — the Investor-State Dispute Settlement system (ISDS) — threatens our sovereignty and our climate by allowing foreign corporations to demand damages in foreign trade tribunals over laws designed to protect the public and our environment.

Clearly trade is critical for the US in our global economy. This discussion is to evaluate the pros and cons of the TPP and its likely impact on Americans, and the planet.

Please join us for this important discussion!

Guest Speaker: Selden Prentice

Selden Prentice is a retired lawyer and college instructor who now volunteers full-time with the climate change group, 350Seattle. She leads the trade policy workgroup which is currently focused on the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership.

About InspireSeattle

InspireSeattle is a progressive network of Seattle-area people sharing ideas and supporting action. InspireSeattle’s vision is to create connection throughout our community and better community through activism. InspireSeattle’s mission is to provide a fun, supportive gathering for people who care deeply about our community, our country and our planet. We embrace progressive policies that improve our society and protect our environment. We discuss current issues, share ideas and activism efforts while striving to inspire additional action. Subscribe (or unsubscribe) to InspireSeattle by visiting www.inspireseattle.org contact.html.

When: May 7th at 6:30PM. Please try to be on time!!!

Where: Carrie Bogner’s place, 1120 24th Ave E, Seattle, WA 98112. Home # is 206-280-4214.

Directions: (easy to find!) Click here for a map: http://goo.gl/maps/IIHhE

From 520, Eastbound: Take the Lake Washington Exit, go right at the light on to E. Montlake which quickly turns into 24th Ave E. Go up the hill then go left onto Highland Dr. The entrance to the house is in the alley between 24th and 25th, but please park on Highland Dr or on 25th Ave. It is the 2nd house on the west side of the alley (from Highland Dr) and has a 3 car garage. Front door is on the south side of the house. Look for signs at the alley entrance!

From 520, Westbound: Take the Lake Washington Exit, go right at the stop sign, then go left at the light on to E. Montlake which quickly turns into 24th Ave E. Go up the hill then go left onto Highland Dr. The entrance to the house is in the alley between 24th and 25th, but please park on Highland Dr or on 25th Ave. It is the 2nd house on the west side of the alley (from Highland Dr) and has a 3 car garage. Front door is on the south side of the house. Look for signs at the alley entrance! place

Format

It’s a potluck: so please help out and bring something to eat and to drink!

6:30 to 7:45: Social time! Eat, drink, relax, and catch up with some other local progressives

Formal discussion and guest speakers, 7:45 to 9:30

Other Announcements – got any?

Rules of Engagement!

1. So that everyone has a chance to participate, please keep your comments short

2. Raise one’s hand to ask a question in lieu of shouting out

3. Respect the points of views of others

4. No arguing of politics during the formal discussion – save that for afterwards!

Roll up our Sleeves: Fight TPP! February 3rd Signing Protest

Rally at City Hall, then march to the Federal Building (5 blocks downhill) to deliver our message, (we might also pay a visit to the Chambers of Commerce).

Fight the TPP or Mr Money bags wins monopolyOn February 3, (February 4th in New Zealand), head trade negotiators from 12 countries around the Pacific Rim will gather to sign the biggest corporate trade agreement ever brokered: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). All over the world, from Malaysia to Mexico to Seattle, they will be met with protest.

We are tired of corporate interests stealing our jobs, ruining our environment, and undermining our health and security. Now, the decision rests with US Congress — accept this deal, or reject it and demand fair trade policy?

The Chambers of Commerce announced that they are “rolling up their sleeves” to pass TPP, so we are rolling up our sleeves to fight back. Join us to send a message here in Washington and to the world — TPP = Betrayal.

Join 350 Seattle, WFTC (Washington Fair Trade Coalition) Backbone Campaign and many more coming together as a global uprising to #StoptheTPP!

Dems censure the votes of Cantwell, Murray, Larsen , DelBene and Kilmer to fast-track TPP

Several Democratic and labor organizations in Washington State have censured or condemned Senators Cantwell and Murray, and Reps. Larsen, DelBene, and Kilmer for their votes in favor of  Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), the fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Washington State Labor Council passed a resolution censuring the TPP supporters, as discussed here. The Washington State Progressive Caucus’s resolution is here.

Below is the version of the resolution under consideration by The King County Democrats’ Resolution Committee. The 32nd LD Democrats adopted a similar resolution on Aug 12.

These resolutions are significant, because President Obama worked closely with Republicans to support TPP and TPA.

The platform of Washington State’s Democratic Party explicitly opposes trade agreements such as the TPP.

RESOLUTION CONDEMNING THE VOTES OF SENATORS CANTWELL AND MURRAY, AND OF REPRESENTATIVES LARSEN, DELBENE AND KILMER, TO “FAST-TRACK” THE TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP

Whereas multilateral negotiations among unidentified corporate representatives of the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations have been conducted in secret for 6-7 years, to develop an agreement to be known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) for governance of future trade among those nations; and

Whereas, despite the ongoing exceptional secrecy, it has become known that the TPP would, as in past international trade agreements, establish a system of Investor-State Dispute Settlement (“ISDS”) tribunals comprised of corporate trade lawyers empowered to override, without judicial review, existing labor laws, environmental protections and health and safety regulations in any participating nation, insofar as those measures might be thought to adversely affect the expected future profits of multinationals and other foreign corporations; and

Whereas there is every reason to believe that the TPP would produce disastrous results much like those of such other recent pacts as NAFTA and the infamous “Korea Free Trade Agreement” that have offshored high-wage jobs and collectively boosted our overall trade deficit to more than $248.5 billion (“Business and Industry Council,” Tradeticker.org) – growing by $5 billion yearly (Economic Policy Institute, Dean Baker) – including our own state’s trade deficit of $147 million; and

Whereas the Washington State Democratic Party, in convention assembled in Spokane in June 2014, adopted a State Democratic Platform expressly opposing “Foreign trade agreements, such as the Transpacific Pact (TPP), that put the interests of corporations above the rights of workers [and] environmental protections, and that overrule the authority of federal, state, and local governments;” and

Whereas resolutions of unequivocal opposition to the TPP, and/or to a “Fast-Track” process for expediting its approval, have been adopted many times since January 2013 – by the Seattle and Bellingham City Councils, by numerous Washington Democratic organizations at the legislative district and county levels, and by the Washington State Democrats; and

Whereas the continued strict secrecy surrounding the TPP’s content has vitiated effective review of the TPP by our elected representatives and prevented any direct review whatever by the American public to whom they are responsible, thus making unreasonably short the 60-day limit imposed by “Fast Track”;

Therefore, be it resolved that we hereby adopt this resolution condemning the votes in favor of Fast Track authority cast by Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray on May 14 and June 23, 2015, and by Representatives Rick Larsen, Suzan DelBene and Derek Kilmer on June 12 and 18, 2015, and

Be it further resolved that we strongly urge our Washington delegation to make a concerted effort, before TPP or any similar treaty is brought to Congress for approval, to assure that the agreement (1) strikes or significantly modifies any ISDS mechanisms so that their operations are transparent and cannot overrule actions by democratic governance systems; (2) prevents any ISDS tribunal from forcing companies or governments to pay compensation for “expected future profits;” and (3) sustains local, state and national laws that mandate physical and economic protections for workers, prohibit child labor, and protect the environment and consumers’ health and safety.

Sponsored by the KCDCC Resolutions Committee

DelBene, TPP, and Microsoft stock: should she recuse herself?

Rep. Suzan DelBene is apparently going to vote in favor of trade promotion authority (“fast track”) for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, unlike Reps McDermott, Smith, and Heck.

A friend called DelBene’s office and an aide said she is voting for fast-track.

Last fall I spoke to her and asked her to oppose it. She was very polite but said that progressives aren’t the only people she represents. She is not a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Instead, she is a New Democrat (a centrist Dem).

Furthermore, according to this Seattle Times article from January of this year, President Obama named DelBene to the Export Council. This is an indication that Obama is confident of her support for TPP.

Microsoft would benefit from TPP. DelBene is an ex-Microsoft executive, as is her husband Kurt. Could her support for TPP be related to their ownership of Microsoft stock?

Rep. Suzan DelBene

According to ThinkAdvisor.com, DelBene is the 10th richest member of Congress and is worth $37.8 million. “DelBene’s wealth, which increased $14 million over last year, comes from the sale of Microsoft stock. She and her husband, Kurt, were both executives at the software behemoth. Besides investments, they own a home worth $5 million, which was purchased in the last year.” It doesn’t say whether they still own Microsoft stock.

KUOW reported in 2012: “According to DelBene’s financial disclosure reports (PDF), she and her husband have a net worth of between $23 and $83 million (candidates are not required to report the exact amount of their assets). DelBene’s husband Kurt DelBene is president of Microsoft’s Office division. Securities and Exchange Commission filings show Kurt DelBene owns 635,693 shares of Microsoft stock.” Other than #1 Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif.(net worth $357 million) and #2 Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas ($117.5 million), the other eight richest members of Congress are Democrats.

Here is her filing with the SEC.

My question is: do DelBene and her husband still own stock in Microsoft? If so, shouldn’t she recuse herself from voting on the issue, since it is a conflict of interest?

How President Obama and his supporters damaged the Democratic Party

Finally, near the end of his presidency, President Obama is displaying the sort of fighting spirit that we needed early on.

Unfortunately, Obama is directing his wrath at Elizabeth Warren and other progressives.

Just two years after the end of disastrous and corrupt presidency of George W. Bush, Democrats were dealt a shellacking in the midterm elections of 2010.   In 2014 control of both houses of Congress was handed over to extremist Republicans.

What went wrong?

A hint about the cause is the following.

In recent days President Obama is openly attacking progressives in the Democratic Party over their opposition to the fast-tracking of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.  This trade deal — which would allow international corporations to sue the US to obtain compensation for lost future profits due to regulations and laws — is opposed by organized labor, by environmentalists, by progressives, and, in fact, by most Democrats in Congress.  The President is depending on the support of Republicans to pass this deal.

President Obama has denied that the trade deal is secret, but in fact it is secret.   The public cannot view it, though Wikileaks leaked a chapter, and there are tight restrictions on how members of Congress can view it. As Politico reports, “If you want to hear the details of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal the Obama administration is hoping to pass, you’ve got to be a member of Congress, and you’ve got to go to classified briefings and leave your staff and cellphone at the door.”

Margot E. Kaminski wrote in this New York Times op-ed:

[T]he draft text is classified by the United States government. Even if current negotiations over the trade agreement end with no deal, the draft chapter will still remain classified for four years as national security information. The initial version of an agreement projected by the government to affect millions of Americans will remain a secret until long after meaningful public debate is possible.

Even the most starry-eyed supporter of President Obama must now be having second thoughts about the policy choices and political smarts of the leader of the Democratic Party.

 

The myth that Obama was forced to compromise

Defenders of the President will claim that, all along, he was forced to compromise because of the unrelenting opposition of Republicans and conservative Democrats.

It is true that conservatives and their well-heeled supporters launched a massive propaganda campaign against the President and the Democrats; and  Republicans in Congress opposed, often unanimously, virtually every policy proposal coming from the Democrats. As a consequence, many Democratic bills died in the Senate, due to filibusters, and bills that did pass Congress, such as the Affordable Care Act, were badly compromised.

But a clear-eyed analysis of the evidence, summarized below, shows that in many cases President Obama actively and repeatedly chose to pursue policies that favored corporations and the military over the People.  He repeatedly compromised early and unnecessarily. He actively selected corporate Democrats to design the Affordable Care Act and many other bills. He filled regulatory agencies with industry-friendly hacks.  He supported centrist Democratic candidates over progressive candidates. He urged regulators to pass industry-friendly rulings.  He prosecuted whistle blowers and let war criminals and Wall Street thugs off the hook.

In the elections in 2010, 2012, and 2014, Democratic candidates were burdened with defending, or ignoring, a poorly designed monstrosity of a health care bill that failed to rein in costs, that pleased nobody, and that was, at best, a small improvement over the existing health care framework.   To a large extent, ACA was a gift to the insurance, pharmaceutical, and hospital industries.  The bungled launch of the national ACA website further reinforced GOP talking points about the inefficiency and haplessness of government.  The ACA pandered to anti-choice politicians, by making it illegal for ACA-related health care plans to cover elective abortions. And organized Labor disliked the ACA because it removed incentives for joining unions and made union members subsidize insurance companies. (See Brendan Williams book Compromised: The Affordable Care Act and the Politics of Defeat for a detailed exposé of the Obama administration’s failings in the area of health care reform.)

In short, the President’s centrism, his failure to lead, his quickness to compromise, his failure to prosecute criminality in the Bush administration and on Wall Street,  and his unwillingness to decisively break with conservative policies and framing confused  and alienated supporters and voters, and allowed our opponents to portray the Democrats as servants of the rich and the powerful.

You needn’t take my word for it. The President himself said, “My policies are so mainstream that if I had set the same policies … back in the 1980s, I would be considered a moderate Republican.”

Obama moves right, Dems follow

In short, Obama is a terrible Democrat, just as George W. Bush is a terrible Republican.

Why can’t our political system deliver quality candidates?

I was once an ardent Obama supporter

Before I enumerate the the ways in which Obama betrayed Democratic principles, I want to point out that I am no radical leftist.  In 2008 I donated hundreds of dollars and hundreds of hours to the campaign of candidate Barack Obama. When he won on Nov. 4, 2008, I texted “Happy day!” to my brother.

Within a year I had sorely regretted my support for Obama. I wrote articles, submitted resolutions, and advocated for accountability, to save the Democratic Party from looming catastrophe.

How President Obama betrayed Democrats

President Obama violated Democratic ideals and aided Republicans by:

  1. Escalating and widening the disastrous, corrupt war in Afghanistan, causing attacks on civilians, cover-ups, and further hardship and casualties for our troops (bin Laden is dead, and al Qaeda is elsewhere — why are we even there?).
  2. Secretly sending special forces to 75 countries — see this article.
  3. Expanding drone attacks, causing many civilian deaths.
  4. Supporting neo-Nazis in the civil war in the Ukraine and surrounding Russia with NATO forces.
  5. Authorizing assassination without trial, even of US citizens.
  6. Increasing total defense spending to nearly a trillion dollars a year.
  7. Authorizing an attack on Libya without prior authorization from Congress, in violation of the War Powers Act.
  8. Twice delaying the withdrawal of troops from Iraq, and continuing the use of private mercenaries.
  9. Continuing overseas rendition, torture, the Guantanamo prison, and domestic spying;
  10. Choosing as his health care proposal a plan designed by the Heritage Institute; it enriches insurance companies and fails to contain a public option, not to mention single-payer.
  11. Choosing conservative Democrat Max Baucus, his advisor Jim Messina, and the other members of the Gang of Six to design the Senate’s health care compromise; Baucus had brokered the passage of George W. Bush’s 2001 tax cuts and 2003 Medicare prescription drug plan, and had spent the better part of the Bush presidency cutting deals with Republicans and infuriating fellow Democrats. Other transgressions included voting for the war in Iraq, the energy bill, the bankruptcy bill and to confirm Supreme Court Justice John Roberts. (source).  Jim Messina later became a chief campaign strategist for David Cameron and the UK Tories; see Former Obama Campaign Manager Led Austerity-Loving Tories to Victory.
  12. Extending President Bush’s unjust bailouts of the banks and Wall Street.
  13. Failing to prosecute criminality in the banking industry (see Eric Holder: The Reason Robert Rubin Isn’t Behind Bars).
  14. Proposing a budget deal more regressive than Pres. Reagan’s (see evidence).
  15. Opposing a bill that would have imposed windfall taxes on Wall Street bonuses.
  16. Surrounding himself with military, legal, policy, and economic advisers held-over from the Bush Administration and from the right wing of the Democratic Party.
  17. Allowing the Affordable Care Act to contain anti-labor provisions (“Union health trusts will actually have to pay a temporary tax to subsidize private insurance companies selling individual coverage on the exchanges.” [source], and “It is no exaggeration to imagine the ACA having the effect of destroying unions, by destroying the incentive to be in them [Compromised: The Affordable Care Act and the Politics of Defeat]).
  18. Allowing many of the architects of the Affordable Care Act to obtain employment with health industry corporations after leaving government service (source: Compromised, ibid).
  19. Allowing the FBI, under the direction of Bush hold-over Robert Mueller, to spy on domestic peace activists and to raid their homes, as reported here and here.
  20. Cutting back-room deals with Big Pharma and Big Insurance that eliminated a public option, prevented re-importation of medicines, and benefited the corrupt and inefficient health industry, in violation of his campaign promise (see also this).
  21. Repeatedly firing progressive staff members, including Van Jones and Shirley Sherrod, based on distorted right-wing smear campaigns, without giving the accused a chance to defend themselves.
  22. Allowing anti-choice provisions to be included in health care reform, despite his campaign pledge to “make preserving women’s rights under Roe v. Wade a priority as president”.
  23. Threatening war with Iran (though more recently his has been a voice of moderation).
  24. Disallowing single-payer advocates a seat at the negotiating table (unclear whether Obama himself made this decision) and reneging on his promise to support a public option.
  25. Supporting assassination of an American citizen residing overseas; see Glenn Greenwald’s analysis.
  26. Failing to support the Employee Free Choice Act, despite union support during his election and his promise to “to fight for the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act”.
  27. Proposing to open sensitive coastal areas to offshore oil drilling.
  28. Favoring $50 billion in government subsidies for nuclear power but not for green energy.
  29. Announcing in November, 2010 a two-year freeze on federal workers’ wages. “This action — negligible in its effect on the federal deficit — affixed the presidential seal of approval to the strategy of handing workers the bill — and the blame — for the economic havoc caused by Wall Street fraud, corporate tax relief and war” (souce).
  30. Expanding the definition of terror to include domestic nonviolent civil disobedience, see this article.
  31. Working with Republicans in the Deficit Commission to gut Social Security, relying on false claims of pending insolvency, and ignoring the option of eliminating the income cap on social security taxes (see this and this and the editorial Whacking the Old Folks from the June 7, 2010 issue of The Nation).
  32. Supporting corporatist, conservative Democrat Blanche Lincoln against progressive challenger Bill Halter in the Arkansas Senate race; see Biden Sends Fundraising E-Mail For Blanche Lincoln.
  33. Failing to push for meaningful action about climate change at the Copenhagen conference.
  34. Appointing pesticide pusher Islam Siddiqui as chief agricultural negotiator in the office of the US trade representative.
  35. Supporting the court martial of Bradley Manning, who leaked the “Collateral Murder video” and documents about the war in Afgahnistan; see also this.
  36. Pushing for strong enforcement of federal marijuana statutes US vows marijuana enforcement regardless of California vote, Medical Marijuana Industry Is Unnerved by U.S. Crackdown (“Medical marijuana advocates accuse the Obama administration of going back on earlier promises not to go after groups abiding by local laws.”); see also this article and this article. “The president campaigned on the promise that he’d stop federal raids on medical marijuana operations that were in compliance with state laws, a vow that Attorney General Eric Holder repeated after the election. But then the Obama administration raided more than 100 dispensaries in its first three years and is now poised to outpace the Bush administration’s crackdown record.” (source)
  37. Overseeing the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, despite his June 2008 statement: “I strongly favor diversity of ownership of outlets and protection against the excessive concentration of power in the hands of any one corporation, interest or small group. I strongly believe that all citizens should be able to receive information from the broadest range of sources. I feel that media consolidation during the Bush administration has had the effect of eliminating a lot of the diversity of information sources available to persons who have to rely on more traditional information sources, such as radio and television broadcasts and newspapers.”
  38. Prosecuting whistle-blower Thomas Drake, who exposed fraud, corruption, and illegal surveillance in the NSA “Trailblazer” program; “Even neo-conservative secrecy advocate Gabe Schoenfeld, whose far-flung idea it was to use the Espionage Act to prosecute leakers, calls Obama’s conduct ‘draconian.'” (See The New Yorker’s Damning Dissection of “Leak” Prosecution of Thomas Drake);
    See Obama’s Crackdown on Whistleblowers.
  39. Nominating George Beck as US Attorney in Alabama (see Obama Proposes a Wretched Nominee for Controversial U.S. Attorney Post).
  40. Approving the use of taxpayer funds for religious schools (Solicitor general surprises justices in religious schools case)
  41. Compromising with Republicans on extending the Bush tax cuts for the rich; Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said this about the estate tax provision included in the tax cut compromise: “We had the president — George W. Bush — we couldn’t get it done then and we’re getting it done here.”
  42. Choosing JP Morgan banker Bill Daley as chief of staff, despite Daley’s approval by the Chamber of Commerce, “Daley publicly pushed the line that Obama and the Democrats overreached with healthcare reform; opposed the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Agency….[and] kvetched about the electoral plight of centrist Democrats in a December 2009 Washington Post op-ed.” (source)
  43. Failing to support Wisconsin workers whose collective bargaining rights were taken away by Governor Walker, the Koch brothers, and Republican legislators. This despite his earlier promises to support workers. See Shoes for President Obama.
  44. Failing to prosecute Bush-era crimes, thereby aiding Republicans and allowing them to hide the truth about their policies from the American people (“…the incredible lengths to which Obama has gone in his crusade to fully protect Bush, Cheney, and their co-conspirators, an effort that has included making threats to England should it be so uncouth as to reveal any evidence of wrongdoing”, from An Honest Look at Obama’s First Year); see also Obama, Press Ignore GOPer Use of DOJ to Cheat Voters, Taxpayers; WikiLeaks has now revealed that Obama worked behind the scenes to prevent the Spanish judge from prosecuting Bush &ammp; Cheney for war crimes; ‘”The only people Obama has prosecuted are the whistle-blowers” .
  45. Compromising early and unnecessarily on raising the debt ceiling. “President Obama initially tried to strike a ‘Grand Bargain’ with Republicans over taxes and spending. To do so, he not only chose not to make an issue of G.O.P. extortion, he offered extraordinary concessions on Democratic priorities: an increase in the age of Medicare eligibility, sharp spending cuts and only small revenue increases. As The Times’s Nate Silver pointed out, Mr. Obama effectively staked out a position that was not only far to the right of the average voter’s preferences, it was if anything a bit to the right of the average Republican voter’s preferences.” (Paul Krugman); “It is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both social security and Medicare.” (Glenn Greenwald);
  46. Suspending a federal scientist for publishing a paper about the effect of climate change on Arctic wildlife (see Federal polar bear scientist back on the job).
  47. Blocking investigation of foreclosure fraud; see Why is the Obama Administration Trying to Block Investigation of Foreclosure Fraud? and this.
  48. Backing down on strengthening Bush-era smog standards, despite EPA director Lisa Jackson’s statement that the current standards are “not legally defensible given the scientific evidence on the record” of dangers to human health” (source). In rejecting the stronger standards, Obama repeated Republican talking points by citing “the importance of reducing regulatory burdens and regulatory uncertainty” — despite “the EPA’s own studies show that a tighter standard could have created $17 billion in economic benefits” (source; see also here).
  49. Supporting free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, despite the opposition of many Democrats and despite the approval of most Republicans (Trade Deals Wed Obama to Republicans as Democrats Vow to Oppose).
  50. Allowing a contractor working for pipeline developer TransCandada to conduct the environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline (source).
  51. “Siding with insurers rather than patients, the Obama administration also changed the rules to prevent patients from appealing contractual disputes, such as a particular service or medication is covered in a policy.” (source).
  52. Deciding not to investigate possible police brutality in the crackdown on Occupy Oakland; see Despite Iraq Vet’s Cracked Skull, DoJ Sees No Evil in Occupy Crackdown.
  53. Pressuring state attorney generals to accept a deal with Wall Street companies that, in the view of many, largely exonerates the criminals on Wall Street (see See Glenn Greenwald at about 54:00).
  54. Trying, but failing, to extend the occupation of Iraq (see (Ibid, 57:00)).
  55. Illegally defunding WikiLeaks, without due process (see (Ibid, 59:00)).
  56. Overseeing the coordinated crackdown on Occupy protesters (Ibid, 59:00).
  57. Restricting access to the morning after pill (see Health Secretary blocks wider access to morning-after pill).
  58. Being “just as zealous as George Bush in stripping away environmental, health and safety protection at the behest of industry” (source).
  59. Naming former Wall Street defense lawyer Mary Jo White to be the Chair of one of the Securities and Exchange Commission (petition).
  60. Nominating Jerome Powell to serve on the Federal Reserve Board of Governors. “Powel served as the undersecretary for finance under the president George H. W. Bush and was a partner of The Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a massive private equity firm and one of the largest defense contractors in the world” (source).
  61. Failing to pursue prosecution of big banks for robo-signing (see Insight: Top Justice officials connected to mortgage banks).
  62. Negotiating a free trade agreement, called the Trans-Pacific Partnership: “TPP has been under negotiation for three years and, unlike in past trade negotiations, Congress has been denied access by the executive branch to the draft agreement text. The few TPP texts that have leaked suggest that TPP would not only replicate the job – offshoring investor protections of NAFTA but expand on them while also undermining Buy American procurement policy, imported food safety rules and medicine price containment policies” (source); see also this.
  63. Agreeing to a “fiscal cliff” deal  on New Year’s Day, 2013 that made permanent 82% of the Bush tax cuts. The deal  lowers tax rates for incomes up to $400,000/$450,000 instead of $200,000/$250,000. (Rep. Adam Smith said that the compromise made in return for an agreement by Republicans on a two month delay before sequestration kicks in).
  64. Giving Shell Oil approval to drill beneath the Arctic Ocean off Alaska and blocking global action in Copenhagen and Durban (RootsAction). “The Obama administration on Monday gave conditional approval to allow Shell to start drilling for oil off the Alaskan coast this summer, a major victory for the petroleum industry and a devastating blow to environmentalists.” — source: New York Times.
  65. Selecting John Brennan as the nominee to head the CIA; see As Brennan Tapped for CIA, Case of Somali Detainees Highlights Obama’s Embrace of Secret Renditions.
  66. Loosening media ownership rules; see Obama Administration Seeks to Strengthen Rupert Murdoch.
  67. Nominating Jack Lew for Treasury Secretary (see Failure of Epic Proportions”: Treasury Nominee Jack Lew’s Pro-Bank, Austerity, Deregulation Legacy).
  68. Nominating Ernest Minz for secretary of energy; see Energy Nominee Ernest Moniz Criticized for Backing Fracking & Nuclear Power; Ties to BP, GE, Saudis;`:w
  69. Appealing a federal judge’s ruling that lifted age restrictions on the morning-after pill (see Women’s health groups slam Obama administration’s decision to appeal morning-after pill ruling).
  70. Nominating Tom Wheeler, a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry, to run the FCC (see Uh-Oh: AT&T and Comcast Are Ecstatic About the FCC’s New Chairman).
  71. Nominating former Obama fundraiser Penny Pritzker for Commerce secretary, despite her family’s history anti-unionism and shady, subprime business dealings (see also this; as Brendan Williams wrote, “Upon President Obama nominating billionaie, union-fighting hotel heiress Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary, Dana Milbank of the Washington Post wrote that it ‘[t]urns out the wealthy didn’t lose the 2012 election; rather, the Republican rich lost to the Democratic rich.'”).
  72. Personally intervening to stop Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, from pardoning Abdulelah Haider Shaye, “a Yemni jounralist who in 2009 revealed a US airstrike that killed fourteen women and twenty-one children” (source: The Nation, March 25, 2013, p. 3).
  73. Nominating Jason Furman for Chief of the Council of Economic Advisers; the American Enterprise Institute says of Furman: “He has written on the importance of fiscal discipline, the need to undertake entitlement reform sooner rather than later, the role of international trade in improving living standards, and the benefits of Wal-Mart in boosting living standards for low-income Americans.” (source: Jason Furman would serve with distinction as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers).
  74. Calling for extradition of whistle blower Edward Snowden.
  75. Signing “into law the $633 billion defense authorization bill despite provisions that block any attempt to close the Guantanamo Bay detention center and try detainees on US soil” (source).
  76. Choosing Larry Summers as front-runner to head the Federal Reserve, despite Summers’ ties to the worst Wall Street abuses (Congressional Dems forced Obama to nominate Janet Yellen instead).
  77. Weakening public education: “A feature of the Obama presidency has been his campaign against the American public school system, eating way at the foundations of elementary education.” (source).
  78. Nomimating Ted Mitchell, a supporter of privatization of education, to become Under Secretary of the Department of Education (“an alarming sign that the administration is favoring greater privatization of public education”.(
  79. Appointing conservative judges to the federal courts (“According to a February analysis by the Alliance for Justice, a coalition of environmental, consumer, civil rights, and women’s groups, 70 percent of Obama’s judicial nominees are former corporate attorneys. ” Obama’s Judicial Nominees: Liberals Are Upset With Them, Too).
  80. Threatening to jail veteran New York Times reporter James Risen if he doesn’t reveal a confidential source; a recent report by the Committee to Protect Journalists shows that the Obama administration’s efforts to prosecute leaks and control information are the most aggressive since the Nixon era.
  81. Nominating Antonio Weiss, a former Wall Street investment banker, as Treasury Undersecretary for Domestic Finance; as reported here, Weiss helped Burger King merge with a Canadian company to avoid paying its fair share of U.S. taxes.
  82. Nominating anti-abortion legislator Michael Boggs to be a federal district court judge.
  83. Running HAMP (the Home Affordability Modification Program) in a way that benefited bankers, not homeowners, contrary to earlier agreements. David Dayen in American Prospect, winter 2015, writes, “HAMP cannot be justified by the usual Obama-era logic, that it represented the best possible outcome in a captured Washington with Republican obstruction and supermajority hurdles…. It was entirely a product of the administration’s economic team, working with the financial industry…”.
  84. Supporting high-stakes testing that weakens public education and unions.
  85. Working with Republicans in Congress to pass the TPP against the opposition of labor, environmentalists, and most Democrats (Obama vows to help pro-trade Democrats fight off the left wing).
  86. Comparing progressives such as Elizabeth Warren to Sarah Palin because of the progressives’ opposition to the TPP trade deal (Obama goes after Warren: ‘She’s absolutely wrong’ on trade and Obama’s war with Elizabeth Warren is heating up).  As The Other 98% said of this, “When President Obama campaigned for office, he promised to reverse NAFTA on dozens of occasions. Now, he’s using his recent popularity to attack his own party from the headquarters of a sweatshop corporation [Nike in Oregeon]. If only Obama worked as hard preventing people from losing their homes or jailing banksters…”
  87. Distorting the truth about the secrecy of the TPP.  Obama said: “When I keep on hearing people repeating this notion that it’s ‘secret,’ I gotta say, it’s dishonest, And it’s concerning when I see friends of mine resorting to these kinds of tactics.” In fact, the text of deal is not open to public and is viewable by members of Congress only with heavy restrictions.
  88. Supporting charter schools, which are destructive of public education and the interests of teachers; see As Obama Admin Seeks More Funding for Charter Schools, Questions Raised over Billions Already Spent.
  89. Blocking adoption of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Review Conference’s consensus statement. See Obama Administration Sabotages Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference.
  90. Failing to put expansion of Social Security on the agenda of the White House Conference on Aging (July 13, 2015), despite support of almost all Senate Democrats and 116 out of 188 House Democrats (source).

Why do grassroot Dems put up with it?

Because they fear they might empower the Republicans; because they’re uniformed; because they believe the nice-sounding rhetoric coming from corporate Dems; and because it’s almost impossible to convince Democrats to oppose a sitting Democratic president. I was accused of aiding the racist wingnuts and birthers who attack Obama from the right. It pains me to no end when Obama supporters hold onto their delusion that the President is a friend of the people.

Why Politics Sucks

Additional documentation

How you can Fight the Battle in Seattle against TPP

On Monday, March 30, Seattle City Council will vote on a resolution OPPOSING FAST TRACK for the massive, secret, corporate-negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade agreement.

http://pol.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/143352

Fast Track would circumvent normal Congressional review processes, restricting debate and limiting Congress to an up or down vote on trade policy that would permanently change the balance of power, allowing global corporations to sue our government if economic and environmental policies limit their “future anticipated profits.” A fast track bill could be introduced in Congress any day, and Congress in Washington DC is closely following the debate in Seattle. Join us at full City Council hearing from 2-4 pm and vote to make sure Seattle votes YES on this historic resolution!

http://pol.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/143352

THE BATTLE IS ON and once more it’s in Seattle; as goes Seattle, so may go the rest of the nation. If you can’t make it to the City Hall, please call the Council members so they hear from us not just the opposition at this crucial moment.
The message should be that the TPP, negotiated in secret, with no public involvement, has harmful provisions that threaten Seattle’s ability, as well as the state of Washington’s ability, to protect our environment, health, and worker’s rights. This is due to investor state provisions in the TPP that allow multi-national corporations to sue governments in secret trade tribunals when they believe a law or regulation harms their profits. Seattle needs to stand up and oppose this attack on our sovereignty.

Here is an easy way to e-mail them: council@seattle.gov.

I ask that you call also. At a minimum, please call the first five. Here are the numbers:

Sally Bagshaw 206 684 8801
Sally Clark 206 684 8802
Jean Godden 206 684 8807
Bruce Harrell 206 684 8804
Tim Burgess 206 684 8806
Tom Rasmussen 206 684 8808
Nick Licata 206 684 8803
Mike O’Brien 206-684 8800
Kshama Sawant 206-684 8016

Linda Brewster
MoveOn Regional Organizer
360 379-4023
TPP Call Host Team
www.stopfasttrack.com
www.flushthetpp.org

Contact Seattle City Council members and ask them to oppose TPP

A number of local organizations have been working with a couple of members of the Seattle City Council (Mike OBrien and Kshama Sawant) to bring a resolution forward against the TPP (the secret Trade Agreement that corporations are hoping will get fast-tracked very soon by congress). Support was building and a plan was formed to bring the resolution to committee on March 17th and to the full council on March 23rd. BUT this work drew the attention of business interests and the Obama administration and they are now pushing back hard. AS GOES SEATTLE, SO MAY GO THE NATION!

It is time now to make sure Seattle Council members know where we stand on this egregious coup by the multinational corporations over WE THE PEOPLE.

PLEASE CONTACT THEM RIGHT AWAY, and get your family members and friends to do so also. They need to hear from us as soon as possible or the resolution may be dropped!

The message should be that the TPP, negotiated in secret, with no public involvement, has harmful provisions that threaten Seattle’s ability, as well as the State of Washington’s ability, to protect our environment, health, and worker’s rights. This is due to investor state provisions in the TPP that allow multinational corporations to sue governments in secret trade tribunals when they believe a law or regulation harms their profits. Seattle needs to stand up and oppose this attack on our sovereignty.

Here is an easy way to e-mail them: council@seattle.gov.

I ask that you call also. At a minimum, please call the first five. Here are the numbers:

Sally Bagshaw 206 684 8801
Sally Clark 206 684 8802
Jean Godden 206 684 8807
Bruce Harrell 206 684 8804
Tim Burgess 206 684 8806
Tom Rasmussen 206 684 8808
Nick Licata 206 684 8803
Mike O’Brien 206-684 8800
Kshama Sawant 206-684 8016

Stand Up For Democracy, Stop the TPP

Backbone Ally, Washington Fair Trade Coalition invites you to Stand Up For Democracy

Join WFTC for Tuesday’s Light Brigade Actions in Seattle and more.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy, Nov. 8-14!
Washington Fair
Trade Coalition
Final WFTC logo
large_box_top.gif
Why Is this Week Important?

Free Trade My Ass

The elections are over, but the International Week of Action (Nov. 8-14) is just beginning.
We need your help to make sure Fast Track doesn’t get pushed through during the Lame Duck Legislative Session.
Join groups across the nation calling for a new, accountable, and democratic process for negotiating trade agreements. Let’s send a message that Washingtonians want trade policy that holds up people and the planet, not just the corporate bottom line.

Make your voice heard

Rep                      Kilmer, Stand Up Against the Corporate Rights                      Grab

 

1) Sign our PETITION,

2) then CALL or EMAIL your US Representative

 

Spread the Word

Fast Track vs Lady Liberty

1) Help start the Week of Action with a bang! Click here to join the Thunderclap.

2) Sign up for our social media team, and receive daily sample posts


3) Write your local paper. Contact us to receive a toolkit.

 

Join us at Rallies and Light Brigades!

SeattleTPPBrigade11.13


Bellingham, November 8, 2 – 6 PM, Holly and Railroad, rally and light brigade! (public)

Olympia, November 10, 5:30 – 7 PM, East Plaza lawn by the Korean War Memorial (public)

Seattle, November 11
, 5 – 6:30 PM, Federal Building at 915 Second Ave (public)

Tacoma, November 12, 7 – 9 PM, Pierce County Central Labor Council (RSVP only)

More event information here.

 

Support WFTC’s ongoing work: Fair Trade Breakfast, Nov. 19

Breakfast

Join us to celebrate the year’s successes and support Washington Fair Trade Coalition’s ongoing work!
Fair Trade Breakfast Fundraiser
7:30 AM – 9 AM
Wednesday, November 19
IAM District Lodge 751
9125 15th Pl S, Seattle WA

Meet and talk with Celeste Drake, Trade and Globalization Policy Specialist for the AFL-CIO, and Jill Mangaliman, from Got Green. Connect with activists working on the environment, human rights, labor rights, public health, access to medicines, food security, climate change, immigration, internet freedom – any issues that intersect with trade policy.

Buy Tickets Here or RSVP at: gillian@washingtonfairtrade.org / 206.227.3079


No Fast Track by Any Name!

 

TPP Protest, Federal Office Bldg, Seattle, Tues Nov 11, 5PM

Both parties may be counting on us to be exhausted and out of the loop when it comes to this ghastly Trade Agreement which has been kept out of the public eye. And in the spirit of compromise, it could easily be passed to show a country weary with gridlock that compromise is possible. Furthermore our representatives from WA believe that TRADE is good for our State which it is. BUT now is not the time to compromise on this potential corporate take-over.

Why can’t our trade negotiators deliver a trade policy that raises living standards in communities at home and abroad? Following the 2014 elections the U.S. government is going to make a push to pass the new mega-trade agreement, the Trans Pacific Partnership, using Fast Track. This agreement, negotiated by corporate lobbyists while the public is kept in the dark, threatens everything from food safety and access to medicines to green energy policy, internet freedom, and labor rights. It also gives corporations ‘investor-states’ rights so they can sue localities, countries, states for depriving them of their hypothetical profits if they insist on sticking to the democratically-determined laws and regulations.

Everything we work for [GMO labeling, environmental protection, food-safety laws] can be overturned or cost us millions of dollars in ‘damages’ we will pay to these corporations!!! We need a new, transparent, accountable, and democratic process, not an antiquated and extreme Fast Track procedure. Help us send a message that Washingtonians want trade policy that lifts up people and the planet, not just the corporate bottom line!

As if pushing Fast Track for a secretive pact weren’t bad enough, the corporations behind the TPP are now hoping to sneak the Fast Track vote into the Lame Duck session — after the elections, when political accountability is at its lowest. The good news is that we’ve stopped Fast Track before and we can do it again. If we all speak out loudly enough, we can derail Fast Track this November and into the future. Join groups across Washington State and the U.S. to Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy!

Rep. McDermott, Stop the Sneak Attack on Democracy! a Light Brigade Action
http://pol.moveon.org/event/moveonaction/142598
Tuesday, Nov. 11, 2014
5 – 6:30 PM
Federal Building, 915 Second Ave, Seattle

We will be outdoors, so dress for the weather. We will have light boards, flashlights, petitions, and more information on how to stay involved and next steps in the campaign!

The November 8 – 14 Week of Action against Fast Track comes as President Obama and other heads of state visit Asia to discuss the TPP, and right as the Lame Duck session of Congress begins to get underway. It’s a time of year when a lot of people take a break after the elections, and start getting ready for the holidays. We need your help remaining vigilant so that Fast Track does not sneak through then or ever.

And if you can’t make this event – Sign our PETITION to Stop Fast Track and the TPP!
• Here is the link to our petition: https://www.change.org/p/u-s-house-of-representatives-we-urge-you-to-publicly-oppose-fast-track-and-promote-a-more-transparent-and-accountable-process-2?just_created=true
• We ask that you circulate this link to your contacts so that we can gather as many signatures as possible.

Stop the TPP -- the ultimate corporate power grab

Lobbying Adam Smith on war and the TPP

This afternoon I attended Rep. Adam Smith’s salmon bake in Bellevue. I mentioned problems with our military: ex-military generals whose punditry is corrupted by connections to military contractors; cost over-runs and design flaws in the F-35; and our history of supporting the wrong side in conflicts.  As always, Smith acknowledges the existence of the problems.  He pointed out, too, that the Saudis are funding ISIS.   Still, he voted to fund the training of opposition groups, since ISIS is a real threat. (Only Jim McDermott in Washington State voted against it.)  I asked if Congress approved of the current bombing. Smith said that he thinks Obama should get approval from Congress before bombing. After recalling the trillions of dollars wasted in disastrous wars, I asked him to err on the side of pacifism in future votes.

In his speech to the assembled people, he repeatedly used the word “progressive” and so when it was time for questions, I asked him why he doesn’t join the Progressive Caucus. He responded that he cares about issues not labels, so he’ll stick with New Democrats he’s been a member of.

When moderate Democrats speak to the Democratic base, they often repeat the “p” word (progressive). Do they really mean it?

Someone asked about the TPP. He explained that whenever you trade with another nation you need independent rules and tribunals to deal with conflicts. He concurs that any agreement must have worker and environmental protections. Afterwards,  I mentioned to him that the state Dems’ platform includes opposition to TPP, and I pointed out the widespread opposition of the Left to TPP, which is regarded as a corporate giveaway.   Yes, parts of it are still secret; but the parts that have been leaked suggest it is bad.  Smith said it won’t be coming up for a vote soon.

He said that nothing will get accomplished in D.C. because Congress is under control of Tea Party people who don’t want Congress to work.

His seat in the 9th CD was gerrymandered after the 2010 census to make it safe for a Democrat, just as the 8th CD was made safe for Dave Reichert, whose Democratic opponent Jason Ritchie attended the event.

For a related story, see Adam Smith’s appearance on Face the Nation and CNN.