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I was going to write something else about the foolishness of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) but, hey, WikiLeaks beat me to it. This dumbness on the part of the Democratic Party to wrap their arms around so-called "free trade", stretching all the way back to Bill Clinton and his (and, I know people want to conveniently forget, ROBERT REICH'S) passionate embrace of NAFTA, is the sad gift that keeps giving. And, now, another Democrat is happy to walk all over the environment to achieve...what? More stupid trade policy.

According to documents published by WikiLeaks, and described in The New York Times:

The Obama administration is retreating from previous demands of strong international environmental protections in order to reach agreement on a sweeping Pacific trade deal that is a pillar of President Obama’s strategic shift to Asia, according to documents obtained by WikiLeaks, environmentalists and people close to the contentious trade talks.

Environmentalists said that the draft appears to signal that the United States will retreat on a variety of environmental protections — including legally binding pollution control requirements and logging regulations and a ban on harvesting sharks’ fins — to advance a trade deal that is a top priority for Mr. Obama.

Ilana Solomon, the director of the Sierra Club’s Responsible Trade Program, said the draft omits crucial language ensuring that increased trade will not lead to further environmental destruction.

“It rolls back key standards set by Congress to ensure that the environment chapters are legally enforceable, in the same way the commercial parts of free-trade agreements are,” Ms. Solomon said. The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the World Wildlife Fund have been following the negotiations closely and are expected to release a report on Wednesday criticizing the draft.

To clarify, I disagree with Solomon about the environmental chapters being much to shout about. I've pointed out going back a number of years (here is one recent discussion) that the labor standards, or side agreements on the environment and labor, are a fig leaf to obscure the reality that so-called "free trade" agreements are basically about promoting and protecting capital investment, and to hell with people and the planet.

In that context, what the Administration is doing is just appalling.

Hopefully, this bad position gives the senior Congressional Democrats, who have told the president TPP is dead in its current form, some more ammunition.

This is just awful.

Originally posted to Tasini on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 02:58 AM PST.

Also republished by Climate Change SOS and Climate Hawks.

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Comment Preferences

  •  NYT Is Seen As Abusing Passive Voice in Headlines (11+ / 0-)

    The headline in the Times: "Administration Is Seen as Retreating on Environment in Talks on Pacific Trade"

    "is seen as"? Oh, come on, NY Times.

    •  NYT is Now Consistent Across The Board (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cybrestrike, Creosote, aliasalias

      in Its Abuse of The Written Word.

      I'm shocked that they dare to point out anything bad about the TPP. To me, that means the TPP is going to morph into another bit of legislation with a brand-new acronym before too long, when we're all not looking at it. (See: SOPA.)
       

      This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

      by lunachickie on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:33:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Only in the USA is the passive voice "abuse" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FG

      In British usage it is preferred and polite, as it is in many other languages.

      And in many cases, it strikes a neutral tone that can strengthen credibility.

      But in present US usage, and particularly news reporting, I understand the active voice to the point of accusatory tone is preferred.

      Or so one observes.

  •  The epistemology of power in this age is income (6+ / 0-)

    It's not wealth but income. To the income mindset, anything that doesn't jack up GDP or a given time period's compensation isn't worth noticing, talking about, or doing.

    Let's just look at this in purely financial terms:

    The Earth, without people, is immensely wealthy, a vast treasury of raw materials, valuable mineral and biological compounds and has awesome 'goodwill' on the balance sheet because alive, and beautiful and always building and rebuilding in sync to metastable conditions in literally thousands of biomes, and adjusting - even drastically - in response to local and the occasional global ecological shock.

    The Earth's, specifically its biosphere is practically a sure thing, a going concern with a risk-adjusted duration measurable in billions of years. Real returns out the wazoo, with generally low volatility despite numerous catastrophic risk scenarios.

    It's worth a whole damn lot, untouched.

    However, we live in a world occupied by humans, who for various reason see value in extracting income from the balance sheet to build, hopefully, additional values such as writing, arts, crafts, architecture, literature, clothing and other things that are nice too and can help make the world even more valuable.

    Think of how corporations do things, when they do them properly: Take materials, labor and capital and produce something that saves time, or labor, or money, or materials or is just really cool...and does so in a fashion that doesn't pass on the poisons and other costs  of production elsewhere.

    Yeah, okay, let's set that fantasy football company to the side and look at the modal corporation which takes more of materials, labor and capital than it requires, to produce goods that aren't all that efficient at saving time, work, cash or supplies...and generates huge externalities for humans and the environment alike.

    Now multiply that latter scenario by, well, most of all economic activity on the Earth at the moment, and you get a huge ding to the planet's balance sheet...to produce a pittance of the possible income....while degrading the ability of the planet to produce more wealth going forward even in strictly corporate terms.

    The moral of the story is that What We Lose When We Only Look At Quarterly Results is actually quite quantifiable.

    If it weren't, our civilization wouldn't pillage the Earth with as much zeal, all in the name of getting paid before public opinion and the regulators eventually catch on that we're all running out of planet.

    Sorry, that was a bit longer than I intended but I found myself going on a tear. :)

  •  It shouldn't be shocking that the Democratic (12+ / 0-)

    Party advances pro-Predator 1% Free Trade.

    Hell, Obama selected Three different Banksters as Chief of Staff, Monsanto @ the FDA, anti-worker "Free Trade" with Columbia, Panama, S. Korea, and put a Wall Street Predator in as Treasury Secretary.

    What would be shocking is if Obama & the Democratic Power Brokers didn't push through more pro-corporate anti-worker "Free Trade".

    And why not?  It's not like the Democratic "base" will ever punish them.  Advance the corporate interests, get rewarded for you & yours by the Predator Elite, and remind the base you're the Lesser Of Two Evils.

    It's been working for 20+ years, why would they stop now?

    At least we're not letting the Republican Flavor take credit for advancing pro-1% "Free Trade", right?

    The 1% are Purists: They only support Candidates that Deliver Results They Can Bank On. Don't they know they should compromise? /sarcasm

    by Johnathan Ivan on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 05:27:28 AM PST

    •  The Goolsbee Memo on NAFTA was an early tell (9+ / 0-)

      in 2008:

      While campaigning in Ohio, Mr. Obama has harshly criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement, which many Ohioans blame for an exodus of jobs. He agreed last week at a debate with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton that the United States should consider leaving the pact if it could not be renegotiated.

      On Monday, a memorandum surfaced, obtained by The Associated Press, showing that Austan D. Goolsbee, a professor of economics at the University of Chicago who is Mr. Obama’s senior economic policy adviser, met officials last month at the Canadian consulate in Chicago.

      According to the writer of the memorandum, Joseph De Mora, a political and economic affairs consular officer, Professor Goolsbee assured them that Mr. Obama’s protectionist stand on the trail was “more reflective of political maneuvering than policy.”

      I hoped at the time that this memo was not accurate.  I subsequently learned to my chagrin that it was a clear statement of policy that would be followed in office.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:37:15 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It works to the good fortune of the corrupt wing (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Don midwest, aliasalias

      of the democratic party that the republicans are so fucking evil.


      "We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both." - Louis Brandies

      by Pescadero Bill on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 08:15:45 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oddly, the "Corrupt Wing" appears to be.. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pescadero Bill

        comprised of most, if not all, of the Democratic Party's Power Brokers.

        Feinstein.

        Pelosi.

        Reid.

        Obama.

        Baucus.

        Etc.

        What an odd thing that the Party appears to be run by pro-1% corporate interests.

        It's just a few Bad Apples, right?  /snark

        The 1% are Purists: They only support Candidates that Deliver Results They Can Bank On. Don't they know they should compromise? /sarcasm

        by Johnathan Ivan on Thu Jan 16, 2014 at 08:56:26 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Env looses, corporate agenda wins (15+ / 0-)

    over a year ago, Chris Hedges started using the term "corporate coup d'etat" to describe our situation. That might have been a little harsh back then, but now it is on display all the time with one of the worst cases being the TPP.

    Obama and the political parties work for the global corporate capital group that are killing the planet for resources

    they have no moral concern for humans, animals nor mother earth

    Kelsey's review of the draft also points out that the main outlier on environmental protections is the United States. She also notes that because the protections included in the draft fall short even of those contained in previous trade agreements backed by the US, passage of the deal will create a "particular political dilemma" for President Obama and other backers. She writes:
    ...
    Obama is going to find this a very hard sell to domestic constituencies. The timing of the leak could hardly be worse. On 9 January 2014 a Bill seeking fast track authority was presented to the Congress. The controversial fast track process requires the Congress to accept or reject the deal as a whole and imposes a strict time limit on debate. The numbers were already stacking up against the Bill, with Democrats especially critical of the erosion of their powers and the secrecy of the negotiations, as well as the reported content. This leaked environment chapter will further erode support among Democratic members of the House of Representatives who are up for re-election later this year.

    Obama is going to have to rely heavily on unfriendly Republicans.

    Leaked TPP 'Environment Chapter' Shows 'Corporate Agenda Wins'
    US called main 'outlier' when it comes to strong protections; Leak comes as Obama tries to ram trade deal through Congress

    I added the bold. I disagree. They are not unfriendly Republicans. They are part of the political class working for the Oligarchy.

  •  TPP: Poison for Local Community Resilience (12+ / 0-)
    The past couple of decades of globalization have been a disaster for planetary ecosystems, indigenous peoples, and most middle-class citizens, but a gravy train for big investors, investment bankers, and managers of transnational corporations. This unprecedented expansion of international trade was driven by the convergence of key resources, developments, and inventions: cheap oil, satellite communications, container ships, computerized monitoring of inventories, the flourishing of multinational corporations, the proliferation of liberal trade treaties (including NAFTA), and the emergence of transnational bodies such as the World Trade Organization.
    TPP: Poison for Local Community Resilience
  •  int'l water/mine/well ownership...tick, tick... (4+ / 0-)

    ppl have to fight back on the local level before it's too late.

    I am tired of laughing at the irony of their stupidity.

    by stagemom on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:21:57 AM PST

  •  A thousand thanks (8+ / 0-)

    for all that you write around here, Tasini--excellent!

    This dumbness on the part of the Democratic Party to wrap their arms around so-called "free trade", stretching all the way back to Bill Clinton and his (and, I know people want to conveniently forget, ROBERT REICH'S) passionate embrace of NAFTA, is the sad gift that keeps giving.
    NAFTA practically upended this country. TPP will finish it off. And I, too, do not understand the embrace of Robert Reich around here. To me, that would be like Dems embracing Frank Luntz, now that he's had his Come to Jesus moment on "market research".

    This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

    by lunachickie on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 06:38:42 AM PST

    •  ah shucks (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      lunachickie

      thanks lunachickie and for you being on the money in your responses (see below)!

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 01:05:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Reich (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      aliasalias, lunachickie

      I've wanted to write something about this but at least here it will just get the Reich kool-aid drinkers all in a tizzy. He's a fraud but a very clever adopter (perhaps the best) of the thing that can get him attention. He was pro-NAFTA--but has never admitted it-- and he was pro-Wal-mart but now avoids that history. Long long history.

      Follow me on Twitter @jonathantasini

      Visit Working Life.

      by Tasini on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 01:07:59 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm thinking (0+ / 0-)

        you don't have to worry about frizzle-tizzys by the faithful anymore. There's a Reich diary on the rec list right now, in which--much to my pleasant surprise--many commenters have found their voices regarding exactly what a shyster Reich really is. So I say go for it :)

        Of course, a few somehow keep managing to call him a "progressive", which is surely a large part of the point (but I digress)...

        This all started with "what the Republicans did to language".

        by lunachickie on Wed Jan 15, 2014 at 02:14:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Stopping this horrible agreement is an essential (5+ / 0-)

    element of working for cliimate stabilization.
    We're far past the point where the question of which is "more important" has any meaning. In my mind, stabilizing climate before it's truly hopeless is the critical issue of our lives, and I don't see any way it will be possible if the corporate takeover of government keeps going.
    Sigh. I want to say something hopeful. Sometimes it's hard. I try to talk about this to everyone I can, but many people are so stressed with immediate problems that anything that looks like it could wait even until tomorrow is just rejected without thought, and I can't really blame them. The fact that the Democrats are even making noises about not allowing fast track is at least a glimmer of hope.
    I don't really want riots in the streets, but the images of the people in Egypt(?) banging their pots and pans all over their city has really stayed in my mind.
    Praying for a miracle isn't much of a plan by itself, but it combines well with whatever activist course you are also pursuing.

  •  We Need To Fix the Treaties We Have (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Don midwest, Brown Thrasher, jmonch

    We need to fix the treaties we have before we go off and make new ones. The treaties we've seen over the past few decades have systematically destroyed the U.S. economy and undermined our environmental and work place safety laws. Before embarking on another hit-job for the economy, we need to clean up the whack jobs we already have.

    No product should be sold here unless it conforms to our workplace and environmental standards. Congress needs to tell the President to renegotiate the current treaties to include an international minimum wage and at least a 10% uniform tariff on all products made there and sold here.

    •  Questions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jmonch

      How exactly does one enforce an international minimum wage when wealth, living standards and cost of living are so non-uniformly distributed and failing to be some arbitrary benchmark is most likely to hurt the poorest?

      Serious question.

      I understand you may think it would raise all boats, but the reality is often the opposite.

      So how would that work?

  •  go to Obama ethics page to find out about TPP? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cybrestrike, Mark Lippman, aliasalias

    I kid you not

    It is official

    Ethics.Data.gov brings records and data from across the federal government to one central location, making it easier for citizens to hold public officials accountable.
    I added the bold so that you would be sure to know that the TRUTH is being upheld!

    What about publishing the text of the TPP rather than having the terrorist organization wikileaks publish it? Can't our free society get ahead of those terrible terrorists?

    and from the horses mouth

    The creation of Ethics.Data.gov is part of President Obama's com­mit­ment to promoting ethics, trans­parency, and account­ability across government.
    I didn't bother to highlight the jokes in those words when it comes to TPP and NSA and the environment and The Grand Bargain and ....

    well, I entered TPP to the Ethics page and didn't get a hit

    and then I entered Trans-Pacific Partnership, still no hit

    i did a search on TPP and got some links

    one was a 2010 link to TPP which after a long time did come up

    the main web page is http://www.ustr.gov/ for the US Trade Representative

    Bring up that web page and right up front is TPP on the top left. Click on it and get a broken link. Well, ...

    the 2010 did come up and it might come up for you, or it might have been removed. OK. The 2010 photo and article did come up after a long time, but the only way to get there is from the google search link, not from the web page that it is on

    so if I gave you the link, you could not click on it and get there

    strange stuff

    did find from google search that today South Korea is interested in joining and other articles that come up

    including Expose the TPP

    http://www.exposethetpp.org/

  •  It's not just TPP (0+ / 0-)

    It's neoliberal US and global trade policy in general.  For the US, trade liberalization has been a disaster and the trade deficit that continues to soar is evidence.  This piece came out yesterday about it.  I urge you to check it out (full disclosure: I work for the author in an administrative capacity).

  •  Thanks so very much this great diary. (0+ / 0-)

    If we could get folks to care about that which matters to all us instead of just profits made by exploiting kids and the most vulnerable workers and to care about our planet......

    @StewartAcuff www.stewartacuff.com

    by StewartAcuff on Thu Jan 23, 2014 at 06:12:16 AM PST

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