The lies we are told about “free trade”

Last week didn’t go as hoped for by the President. The House, thanks mostly to a demonstration of leadership by Nancy Pelosi and the Democrats, put the brakes on Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), also known as fast track authority.

Last-minute lobbying from President Obama couldn't save the fast-track trade authority he's requesting, for now. Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press
Last-minute lobbying from President Obama couldn’t save the fast-track trade authority he’s requesting, for now.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/Associated Press

In the lead up to and then as a post-script to the vote, we were treated to lies from the President and the Speaker as reported this week in a single CNN piece.

“These kinds of agreements make sure that the global economy’s rules aren’t written by countries like China; they’re written by the United States of America,” Obama said. “And to stand in their way is to do nothing but preserve the long-term status quo for American workers, and make it even harder for them to succeed.”


“Republicans did our part, and we remain committed to free trade because it is critical to creating jobs and growing our economy,” he said. “I’m pleased that a bipartisan House majority supported trade promotion authority. This is an opportunity for the Democratic Party to take stock and move forward in a constructive fashion on behalf of the American people.”

First of all, the president is presenting a false choice. It’s the black and white logical fallacy in all it’s glory. He’s also engaging, of course, in what always seems to work with frightened Americans; the appeal to emotion that big, bad, and scary China will control the world’s economy, as if that’s not already the case thanks to corporations who long ago moved production to cheaper overseas markets.

What he’s actually saying is this.

“The Big Money corporatists who actually control me, Washington, our state houses, and the global economy want me to scare you into believing in false choices and promises sure to be broken.”

What is known about the TPP and it’s Atlantic-oriented cousin, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), is that they are terrible for democracies and for everyone outside the board rooms of corporations and financial markets.

What else needs to be understood is that the promises made to past legislators and to we Americans in exchange for support for past trade deals have almost never materialized or have been broken entirely.

The post-script comes from Speaker Boehner. He’s making the case that Republicans want to empower this President and future presidents with the authority to negotiate trade deals in secret and then which have only 60 days for review before a simply up or down vote is cast by Congress. That’s what fast track authority is all about, and Republicans – the so-called “smaller government” party – want this kind of Executive Branch power more than Democrats.

The proof is in the votes. The GOP voted Aye for the TPA portion of H.R. 1314 by nearly a 7-to-1 margin versus Democrats.

Stop and think about that. The GOP has done everything possible to stymie just about everything the president and the Democrats have tried to accomplish in the last 7 years. Now, they’re on his side. Why is that?

Because when you get past the layers of bullshit we’re fed by corporate media and bi-/trans-partisan groups begging for compromise (which is how we’ve gotten into the mess we’re in), there are differences between the parties.

Lots of them, and they are not subtle. They are not nuanced. They are obvious. TPA and the TPP is just another glaringly obvious example to anyone willing to open their eyes to look.

Yes, of course, Big Money Corporatists are doing their best to control everything and every politician, but here’s the truth that those on the right and those pining for some mythical middle ground don’t seem to want to acknowledge. Right now, what little defense we ordinary Americans have in Congress comes almost exclusively from the Democrats and Independents. They have proven before their willingness to stand up to the President on the TPA, and they are the ones doing it again.

Call your elected officials. Keep the heat on. Tell them you expect them to vote against fast track trade authority, and remind them that you’ll be voting in the next election.

Included in fast track authority is TiSA, Trade in Services Agreement. This is just one more reason why we cannot allow corporatists and Big Money interests to win.

Additional reading:

H.R. 1314: Trade Act of 2015

TPP/TTIP Resources

“Fight for the Future statement on defeat of Fast Track trade package in U.S. House of Representatives”; Evan Greer, Fight For The Future, 6/12/2015

“New Polls Spotlight Damage of Past Trade Deals, Reveal Opposition to TPP Content”; Ben Beachy, Public Citizen, 5/28/2015

“Nike, Obama, and the Fiasco of the Trans-Pacific Partnership”; Robert Reich, 5/8/2015

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Suggesting @SenSanders steal #TPP text is asinine

In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve been registered as Non-affiliated my entire life. I consider myself to be a fan and a supporter of Senator Sanders, and I’d like to think that I can offer some evidence of having more than just dabbled as a layperson into matters of TPA, ISDS, TPP, and TTIP.

I also want to make it abundantly clear that I have nothing personal against Robert Naiman or Truthout, but I have to take issue with his op-ed from today, “How Bernie Sanders Can Kill the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”

Read it and let me know if I’m missing something below.

photo by Josh Lopez, (
photo by Josh Lopez, (


With Friends Like This….

…who needs enemies?

The people who stand to gain the most from Bernie breaking his oath and revealing the text of the TPP are only his opponents.

While we Bernie supporters might cheer him for his courage, his revealing this document would absolutely end his political career. There’s fighting the system, and then there’s being naively quixotic.

Can’t you just see the campaign ads against this wild-eyed, socialist madman from the backwoods of Vermont just willy-nilly revealing state secrets as he spins in his chair in the Oval Office.

Then there would the GOP ads!!!

The Black and White Logical Fallacy….

…with a sprinkling of No True Scotsman

Robert Naiman is engaging in both, and probably a few more.

Bernie’s choices are not to binary; to reveal the text or else be seen as not doing enough. Bernie can keep doing what he’s doing by making this an issue the country ought be paying attention to without breaking the rules or putting himself at risk.

Hell, the secrecy is a prime issue in and of itself!

Then there’s this. We’re a nation of laws. They’re supposed to apply to everyone, but in my opinion, this is not an issue I want Bernie committing political seppuku over. I consider Edward Snowden to be a hero, but I don’t want Bernie to be his roommate.

Mr. Naiman seems to be trying to frame Bernie’s “inaction” by what Senator Durbin did and didn’t do about intelligence on Iraq. That’s the No True Scotsman fallacy in full view.

It was his job as a member of the intelligence committee to tell the American people that the intelligence didn’t match the Bush administration’s rhetoric. Of course, it was other people’s job too; he was the one who subsequently confessed to inaction.

That sounds like, “If only Durbin had acted like a true <fill in the blank> and just broken his silence, we never would have invaded Iraq.” 

That’s a dubious notion at best. We were a nation drunk with fear, blood-lust, and revenge, and looking back there seems nothing that could have stopped the Cheney/Rumsfeld/W juggernaut in the Middle East.

Bernie’s illegal release of the TPP text would be equally dubious. Even if every sentence of the TPP were revealed tomorrow – and with a $100,00 bounty from WikiLeaks, it just might have been released by the time you read this – we’re still going to see too many of our fellow citizens acting like the good corporatist’s Pavlovian dog at the ringing of the supposed “free trade” dinner bell.

It sure as hell seems unlikely to change the minds of Senators and Representatives contemplating the fast-track bills, S.995 and H.R. 1890.

Now that I think about it, it seems eminently fair to add the Appeal to Emotion logical fallacy to Mr. Naiman’s approach in all of this. 

So What To Do?

Bernie can’t do this alone. No one can. We all need to unite, first and foremost, and voice our opposition in granting the president fast-track authority.

There are tons of examples of people making their voices heard; from Reverend William Barber, to Fight For The Future, to the Pittsburgh city council, to one of my personal favorites and a leading organization in this area, Public Citizen.
(My own page has many more links. articles, and original blog posts.)

So, how about it, Mr. Naiman. Let’s not call for Bernie to act like a fool or a madman. Instead, let’s help him as best as we can so he stays out of trouble and so maybe we can see him on the ballot and even in the White House!

TPP Update — MILLIONS against the TPP on both sides of the Pacific!

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

Protests followed Obama from Malaysia to Manila this week, while more than 3 million across the U.S. spoke out against the TPP. Help spread the word today!

Greg Russak‘s insight:

*UPDATE: Together we grabbed the attention of decision-makers by projecting a Stop The Secrecy petition number on key buildings in Washington D.C. Now we need you to amplify our action by making it go viral online. Congress Member Ron Wyden, who leads U.S. trade legislation, has just joined with us to stand against TPP Secrecy!  We haven’t won yet so after you sign the petition please share the projection image below with everyone you know. (See

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Tech Companies Urge Senator Wyden to Reject Fast Track and Bring Transparency to TPP

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

Over 25 leading technology companies have joined a public letter urging Senator Ron Wyden, the newly appointed Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, to firmly oppose any form of “fast track” authority for trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

Greg Russak‘s insight:

In pushing for Fast Track, the Obama administration would strip another layer of transparency and accountability out of the trade agreement process. If it succeeds, TPP and other trade agreements with draconian copyright enforcement rules could get passed with even less democratic oversight. We hope to see the Senator oppose those efforts, and stand firm on his dedication to Internet users and transparent rule making as he takes on a position of leadership over the Congressional trade agenda.


If you’re in the US: use this tool to contact your lawmakers, call your representatives, and help us keep the pressure on Congress to oppose Fast Track.


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Media Companies Lobby for Trans-Pacific Partnership | Republic Report

See on Scoop.itDidYouCheckFirst

Earlier this month, Media Matters for America published a short research note revealing that most major cable and broadcast news outlets have largely ignor

Greg Russak‘s insight:

According to Congressional Lobbying Reports linked from this article….

Time-Warner’s 1Q2013 Lobbying Report lists $905,000.00 in total lobbying expenses, and a team of 4 lobbying on trade issues that included TPP, the New Zealand Copyright Act ( and other matters.

Comcast’s 2Q2013 report lists total lobbying expenses of $5.47million. They categorize their lobbying related to TPP as “International IP Protection – TPP, WIPO (, and TTIP.

In Q4 of 2013, Twenty-First Century Fox spent a total of $1.52million dollars on all their lobbying including the TPP, TTIP, and Trade Promotion Authority, better known as “fast track” authority.

Disney spent a total of $1.11million in the first quarter of last year on lobbying, spreading their TPP-related lobbying around in the House, the Senate, the U.S. Copyright Office, Patent & Trademark Office (PTO), the Office of Management & Budget (OMB), the Department of Commerce (DOC), and with the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR).

Do we perhaps begin to understand better why it is that the corporate/mainstream media has nothing at all to share with us about the secrecy and the potential pitfalls of current trade negotiations?

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