Nel's New Day

February 8, 2020

DDT: Week 159 – End of Democracy in U.S.

The week started with Super Bowl LIV.  Anyone who doubts that Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be suffering from dementia should watch this video as he kibitzes during the playing of the “Star Bangled Banner” kick off. On Fox & Friends, he had said that players who don’t stand “proudly for the national anthem … maybe … shouldn’t be in the country.”

Monday was the grand mess of the Iowa caucus, the first selection of delegates for the 2020 presidential conventions. Faulty coding and conservatives’ clogging the phone lines for reporting the results led to confusion about the “winner.” It also allowed conspiracy theorists, which include Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) to claim that the “Bernie blowout and a Biden crash” may be related to poll and caucus problems in Iowa. Graham’s reelection campaign has made him increasingly desperate.

Tuesday night was DDT’s annual State of the Union reality show when he gave his feature guest, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, designated for “an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.” The award, which was presented on California’s Rosa Parks Day, has been given to Parks, the Apollo 13 Crew, Helen Keller, Martin Luther King Jr., and Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall as well as noted people in the arts, education, military, etc. This year, DDT gave it to his racist, misogynist friend. A few of Limbaugh’s more infamous comments: 

  • Mocking Michael J. Fox for shaking from Parkinsons disease.
  • Calling 13-year-old Chelsea Clinton a “dog.”
  • Claiming that the way to stop HIV was “do not ask another man to bend over and make love at the exit point. That’s what you don’t do.”
  • Comparing the movement for marriage equality as a “movement on to normalize pedophilia.”
  • Calling President Obama “Barack the Magic Negro” and Michelle Obama “uppity.”
  • Supporting DDT in the birther movement.
  • Describing Sandra Fluke a “slut” and “prostitute” because she campaigned to get free birth control for medical problems.
  • Declaring that ‘feminism was established so that unattractive ugly broads could have easy access to the mainstream.’”
  • Stating that “women mean yes when they say no.”

Of Limbaugh’s 42 statements checked by PolitiFact, 81 percent were lies. First Lady Melania Trump, who DDT lauded for her “Be Best” campaign to stop bullying, placed the medal around Limbaugh’s neck.

As Republican columnist Jennifer Rubin wrote, David Duke may be DDT’s next choice for the “Medal of Freedom.” She also wrote that the true accomplishments that DDT touted actually belong to President Obama and the rest of his self-glorification were lies.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) said that the cult-like behavior of the Republican legislators at SOTU was like watching a North Korean military parade. When DDT entered, they chanted “four more years” just like at a campaign rally before “Make America Great Again.” DDT waited until a Friday rally to tell his audience to chant 12 more years or 16 more years instead of four years.

After the SOTU, State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo tried to attack House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (R-CA) for tearing up DDT’s speech by comparing her to second-grader Lisa Simpson, on The Simpsons, ripping up a paper. He missed the context of the television program: Lisa had overheard a lobbyist bribing a congressional member for a corrupt act and talked about the “swamp” of Washington. The program on disillusionment from the realization of corruption was filmed in 1991. In the program, the corruption politician was arrested.

Wednesday was the day for DDT’s acquittal in his impeachment trial with only one GOP senator, Mitt Romney (UT), voting against even one of the two articles of impeachment. Almost one-third of the other GOP senators openly admitted that DDT “did something wrong” but claimed that he had “learned his lesson.” Sen. Joni Ernst (IA), up for reelection this year, thinks that DDT has learned “he needs to go through proper channels.” She claimed that Joe Biden might be immediately impeached if he were elected president but then tried to back down on her statement later. Sen. Marco Rubio (FL) said:

 “Just because actions meet a standard of impeachment does not mean it is in the best interest of the country to remove a president from office.”  

Sen. Susan Collins (ME), extremely vulnerable in her reelection campaign, said she voted against witnesses and for DDT’s acquittal because DDT would be “much more cautious” but then backed down on her belief after she made those votes.  

The Senate impeachment trial culminating on Wednesday hit a new low in that chamber’s behavior and the pattern of trials in the United States. A comparison to DDT’s impeachment trial: Imagine that a person murdered someone you loved and there were witnesses to the killing. Before the trial, the killer meets with the jury to establish procedures for the trial to guarantee acquittal, and most of the jury, many of whom were paid by the killer, promised to acquit the murderer. The trial has opening arguments, closing arguments, and vote. No evidence, no witnesses, and no discussion of guilt. The jurors said that any witnesses or documents would make the trial last too long. Meanwhile the killer threatened jury members who voted against acquittal, and the defense attorneys, who were involvement in the killing, consistently lied in their arguments with no punishment. During the closing arguments, GOP jurors walked out of the proceedings, but they will still voted. This trial was worse than the Jim Crow trials in the South.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY), one of the jurors who swore an oath to “do impartial justice,” continually bragged that he had “total coordination” with the White House and promised “no difference between the president’s position and our position as to how to handle this.” For example, McConnell advised DDT’s legal team about which arguments they should make to persuade undecided senators. McConnell called DDT so that he could sign off on a resolution to make the Senate acquittal vote on Wednesday.

The Senate has given DDT the same power as the Enabling Act (German: Ermächtigungsgesetz) of 1933, formally titled Gesetz zur Behebung der Not von Volk und Reich (“Law to Remedy the Distress of People and Reich”) that gave the Chancellor Adolf Hitler the right to enact laws without the involvement of the German Reichstag, comparable to the U.S. Congress.

The DOJ admitted that they are blocking two dozen emails about withholding congressionally-approved aid to Ukraine until the Senate acquits Trump. Robert O’Brien, DDT’s fourth national security adviser in about three and a half years, is sticking with the “he didn’t withhold aid” argument. His inability to see evidence does not bode well for “national security.”

Romney isn’t the only GOP leader who believes that DDT abused his power. Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said that DDT shouldn’t be in office. At the Fox network, once called “state TV” because of its overwhelming support for DDT, the research team warned colleagues to not trust some claims about Ukraine by its top commentators. The briefing book questioned credibility by “disinformation” deliverers such as John Solomon (a former opinion writer for The Hill), Rudy Giuliani, Victoria Toensing, and Joe diGenova and cited extensive examples of their falsehoods. These people frequently appeared on shows hosted by Sean Hannity, Lou Dobbs, and Tucker Carlson. DiGenova disappeared from the channel after he falsely make the anti-Semitic statement that liberal billionaire George Soros “controls” the State Department. He and his wife Toensing never explained that they made $1 million from Dmytro Firtash, an indicted Ukrainian oligarch and accused high-level Russian mafia associate who is trying to avoid extradition to the U.S. Giuliani is using Firtash to get damaging information on the Bidens.

DDT may have been acquitted of holding up congressionally-approved funding for Ukraine after some GOP senators falsely claimed his innocence because he released the money, but he’s still withholding approval for $30 million of arms and ammunition from U.S. companies for Ukraine. One sale has been delayed for over a year, despite down payments from Ukraine, but officials can’t get any explanations from DDT. Ukrainian officials think the delays could come from the U.S. attempts to block China’s purchase of a strategic Ukrainian aerospace company that manufactures helicopter and airplane engines. Officials in the U.S. have ignored all requests from Ukraine for information.

Almost one-third of GOP senators who voted to acquit DDT were in Congress during Bill Clinton’s impeachment and trial. Of them, only Susan Collins voted to acquit both men.

Senators representing 151.5 million people voted to acquit; senators representing 169.5 million people voted to convict. Once again, DDT lost the popular vote. Those voting to acquit represent only 44 percent of the U.S. population. Plus a majority of the U.S. public supported DDT’s impeachment and removal from office.

The rest of the week tomorrow!

February 4, 2020

State of the Union Speech: The Great American Comeback (GAC)

One year ago, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) vigorously clapped for Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) at his State of the Union speech when DDT said called on Washington to “reject the politics of revenge, resistance and retribution and embrace the boundless potential of cooperation, compromise and the common good.” After a year of threats and obstruction, DDT now calls for former national security adviser John Bolton to be investigated and plans to also attack Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT), Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY). Sources say that DDT “has an enemies list that is growing by the day.”

DDT’s legal team already spent the vast majority of their time attacking DDT’s self-perceived political enemies who had nothing to do with the impeachment—President Obama, former FBI director James Comey, special investigator Robert Mueller, FBI employees Strzok, Page, and Ohr—the list was extensive. Pam Bondi spent almost an hour attacking Hunter Biden for charges that Ukraine and U.S. investigation declared baseless. 

Tonight, DDT moved forward to spread vitriol, sob stories, and falsehoods in his third State of the Union speech, adding mightily to his 16,000 lies over the past three years. 

GDP Growth – Fiction: “U.S. economy “best it’s ever been. Fact: The GDP growth in the last quarter was 2.1 percent with 2.3 percent for the entire year. The average growth rate since 1947 has been 3.2 percent. Economic growth slowed. DDT in September 2016: “We think it could be 5 (%) or even 6 (%).” He was wrong.

Economic Success – Fiction: DDT takes responsibility for having “reversed the failed economic policies of the previous administration.” Fact: Economists maintain that economic growth because during President Obama’s terms.

Tax Law – Fiction: Giving money to the wealthy and big business by slashing the corporate tax by 40 percent will create a massive increase in domestic capital investment and then more jobs. Fact: A brief increase in investment in 2018 collapsed back to previous levels.

Jobs Growth – Fiction: A huge expansion of jobs under DDT. Fact: President Obama averaged 201,600 jobs per month after the George W. Bush’s loss of jobs was reversed in October 2010. For 2017 to 2019, with some of those months credited to his predecessor, DDT averaged 191,000 per month, five percent less than President Obama. DDT managed an average of 176,000 new jobs per month in 2016, a decline of almost 13 percent from his predecessor. The 6.7 million jobs created since DDT moved into the Oval Office is fewer than President Obama’s 8.2 created jobs in his last 36 months.

Manufacturing Jobs – Fiction: Blue-collar boom. Fact: Employment growth in manufacturing slowed to fewer than 50,000 jobs in 2019, the second worst in the past decade. Job growth decreased from 2.6 percent at the beginning of 2019 to 1.3 percent at the end of the year in mining, construction, and transportation. Instead of 12,000 new factories, the total of new ones is under 11,000, and over 8,000 of them employ five or fewer people.

Jobs Growth in Auto Industry – Fiction: NAFTA-New to “create nearly 100,000 new high-paying American auto jobs.” Fact: DDT’s own trade rep says 76,000 jobs in the next five years, and the nonpartisan International Trade Commission estimates 28,000 jobs.

Jobs for Minorities – DDT’s statement about “unemployment rate for African Americans, Hispanic Americans and Asian Americans [reaching] the lowest levels in history” overlook the fact that these levels are now going up.

Wage Increases – Fact: Raises came from state and local increases in minimum wage law.

Farms – Fiction: Farms will benefit from DDT’s election. Fact: Farm bankruptcies increased by 20% in 2019 compared with 2018. After DDT’s trade war with China, soybean production was expanded in China. DDT compensated farm losses, mostly for wealthy farmers with a Socialist donation to them of $28 billion taxpayer money.

Oil Industry – Fiction: DDT taking credit for U.S. becoming #1 producer of oil and natural gas in the world. Fact: The U.S. became #1 in gas production in 2011 and #1 in oil production in 2014—during President Obama’s terms.

Pre-existing Conditions – Fiction: Claim of permanent protection for “patients with pre-existing conditions.” Fact: DDT has worked hard to weaken or eliminate pre-existing conditions, including his new regulations, legislation he championed, and the lawsuit to declare the Affordable Care Act unconstitutional that his AG Bill Barr is litigating for DDT. Information about DDT’s damage to health care

Social Security/Medicare – Fiction: Swears to eternal protection. Fact: At Davos (Switzerland) he said he will get rid of both programs, and his economic policies, such as tax cuts, takes money from these funds.

Sanctuary Cities – Fiction: “Local officials order police to release dangerous criminal aliens ….” Fact: Most cities direct police not to release any undocumented immigrants who have committed crimes unless they make bail.

Trade Deal – Fiction: The U.S. lost 25 percent of manufacturing jobs after NAFTA’s adoption. Fact: Factory employment increased immediately after NAFTA, and the trade deal was not responsible for later job losses. Some jobs were lost while other jobs were created elsewhere. China’s joining the World Trade Organization in 2001 led to greater loss in manufacturing jobs.

Drug Prices – Fiction: Drop in costs of prescription drugs last year. Fact: The Consumer Price Index for drugs doesn’t include all prescription drugs, and the Index has gone up again.  

Religion – Fiction: Claims that his administration is “defending religious liberty, that “we cherish religion.” Fact: Only Christianity is “cherished.” Muslims are persecuted and kept out of the country, and Judaism is accepted only when doing so benefits DDT. He “cherishes” white supremacists, who chant “Jews must go.” Evangelicals are placed far above other religions such as Catholicism as shown by DDT-sanctioned discrimination by adoption organizations. The bit about how “we raise our sights to the Glory of God was a bit much from the notorious “pussy-grabber.

Venezuela – Fiction: Juan Guaidó introduced as the “true legitimate president.” Fact: He is self-declared president, but countries such as Russia, China, and Iran as well as the UN recognize Nicolás Maduro’s government.

ISIS – Fiction: The claim that “the ISIS territorial caliphate has been 100 percent destroyed.” Fact: The Pentagon reported this week that the death of al-Baghdadi made little difference in ISIS’s ability “to maintain continuity of operations, global cohesion, and at least its current trajectory.”

Qassim Suleimani – Fiction: Murdered because he “directed the December assault on United States Forces in Iraq and was actively planning new attacks.” Fact: No evidence for these claims, and the killing may violate international law.

The Wall – Fiction: Built over 100 miles and will have 500 miles finished very soon. Fact: Almost all the 115 miles of new border wall are where vehicle barricades or tattered barriers existed. In Texas, the government lacks 144 or 162 private land that officials want for the wall. In his speech he skipped the lie he told in New Jersey that “the wall is ultimately and very nicely being paid for by Mexico.”

DDT’s focus on generalities made him able to avoid awkward facts about the wall. For example, a 37-mph wind blew down a 130-foot length of the wall in Mexicali, stopped only by trees on the Mexico side. People have easily scaled the wall and cut through it with a $100 saw. The wall also requires hundreds of unstaffed and manually-operated storm gates to be opened for months every summer in mitigation of flash flooding because the wall looks and acts like a sewer grate that collects debris. Open gates require forklifts to open and close the gates. operation.

Rivers and creeks reach dangerous volumes from summer storms, and the border has hundreds of drainage channels and several rivers. The Santa Cruz River begins in an Arizona valley and flows through Mexico’s mountains before returning with more water to again cross the border. The flood plain of the San Pedro River, which goes north from Mexico into Arizona, is wide as a football field and must be kept clean of any obstacles including trees. Until gates are built, the new parts of the wall leave gaps at these waterways that wildlife needs to cross the border and provides areas for smugglers and migrants to cross the border.

As always, DDT’s State of the Union speech, intended to unite the country, was strange—campaigning from the beginning with Republicans chanting “four more years” and DDT refusing to shake the hand of the House Speaker who reached out her hand to him. Pelosi, however, got the last word: she tore his speech in half. Conservatives were enraged, but stories about her action have already gone viral—along with all DDT’s lies. Yet Republicans swallowed DDT’s lies in the last election, suffered buyers’ remorse when they didn’t come true, and are now opening their mouths wide for another dose of falsehoods.

January 23, 2019

Shutdown Continues Deprivation, Covington Gains Prominence

Day 33 of government shutdown: Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) may be feeling the consequences of his government shutdown. After he wrote House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) that he would give his State of the Union speech in the House in six days, she told him that he could give the annual speech at the Capitol after the government was reopened. She had invited him on January 3 with “no thought that the government would still be shut down.” DDT cannot give his speech in the House without a concurrent revolution for a joint session of Congress and an invitation from the House. DDT referred to the Democrats as being “radicalized,” a term that then House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) endorsed using as a pejorative term about Democrats in the early 1990s. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), who supports the government shutdown, said that elected people should “put America’s public first.”

Pelosi accused DDT of “holding the health, safety and paychecks of the American people hostage” and said that Democrats fear he may do so again in future if they agree to his demands. Someone explained to DDT that he couldn’t go to the House with congressional approval, he launched into his usual tantrums, blaming Pelosi for trying to keep “the truth” from the public and controlling Schumer. DDT also was shocked that Pelosi would take this action for the first time in U.S. history. He skipped over the part that trying to give during the speech during a president-caused government shutdown is unprecedented (unpresidented?).

Deciding that he has lost the argument, DDT insulted Pelosi and said that he would wait until after the government reopens to give that “great” speech.

Lara Trump, wife of DDT’s son Eric Trump, calls the loss of paychecks for 800,000 people “a little bit of pain … for the future of our country.” An example of the “little bit of pain” caused by the shutdown is the requirement by Newton (AL) requiring  43 subsidized tenants to pay full rent until “the government opens up.” One 48-year-old woman living on disability with her daughter and granddaughter will immediately see her rent increase from $110 per month to $505. For Lara Trump, that wouldn’t be even a “little bit of pain”; for this family, the almost 400-percent increase is devastating. Rural people who voted for DDT are discovering the “pain” that he can cause them.

Poll since DDT started the government shutdown doesn’t look good for him:

  • 71 percent think that the border wall, which they say is having a negative impact on the country, is not worth a government shutdown.
  • 66 percent want DDT to agree to budget without wall funding.
  • 60 percent think that the shutdown is causing serious problems for the United States.
  • 20 percent report being personally impacted by the shutdown’s cutback in services and programs.

Because of the shutdown, some jail inmates cannot have visitors—not only family but also attorneys—even if they have not been convicted of any crimes. Medical care is also being denied to people in jail because of no availability. The Kentucky union of prison officials have started a billboard campaign to open the government. And they are targeting McConnell as responsible for the shutdown. Today, the House passed the tenth bill to open the government, and McConnell rejected all ten. He is up for re-election next year.

FBI agents have been forced to put investigations on hold because of the shutdown. An undercover agent investigating child exploitation said that he’s “had to put pervs on standby.” Investigation into MS-13 gang members had been slowed because Spanish speakers are on furlough. Another agent working counter-intelligence cases said that they can “only conduct administrative functions.” Indictments are postponed, and grand jury subpoenas put on hold.

DDT’s shutdown caused the cancellation of the 16th annual International Export Control and Border Security Conference, scheduled for 270 security experts from 85 countries to discuss border-related issues such as weapons policy, licensing, and enforcement, including nuclear-arms proliferation. The State Department described the move as a postponement but did not offer a date when the conference would be rescheduled.

Tomorrow, the Senate plans to offer Democrats a deal to stop holding DACA recipients hostage for three years in exchange for $5.7 billion to begin DDT’s wall. Today, the Supreme Court refused to hear the court cases that had stopped DDT’s executive order against the DACA program. That decision makes DDT’s bargaining chip moot for at least ten months.

Arizona Republicans have a way to pay for DDT’s wall: State Rep. Gail Griffin introduced a bill forcing each resident to pay $20 to get porn sites on new computers and smartphones unlocked. Forget the fact that the idea is unconstitutional; the necessary funds for DDT’s current wall would still be short $5,559,680,000 . And imagine the logistics of requiring manufacturers to comply. The idea came from Chris Sevier, a self-described porn addict.

During the government shutdown, the annual March for Life brought about 200,000 people to Washington, D.C., including a large contingent from Covington Catholic High School, a prep school for privileged—mostly white—teenagers in Kentucky, represented by Mitch McConnell who refuses to allow senators to vote on House bills to reopen the government. Most people in the United States were unfamiliar with the school until Nick Sandmann and a group of 50 to 70 students  came from the March for Life to jeer at Nathan Phillips, an older Native American and Vietnam veteran, and a group trying to raise awareness of Indigenous people. When Nick was faced with bad press regarding his behavior, his mother hired a PR agency to organize a campaign that would back the press off from criticism of her son.

Families of Covington students hired the attorney Robert Barnes who appeared on Fox & Friends where he threatened legal action against anyone making false or defamatory statements about the teenagers. He also gave journalists and celebrities 48 hours to apologize and delete their tweets. Videos of the event showed the teens screaming, harassing women, making rape jokes, and taking off their clothes. Barnes may also have to deal with past photos of Covington students in blackface during a basketball game against a rival team with black players. Covington students described blackface as “school spirit.”

This morning, Nick appeared, without his MAGA hat, on NBC Today show where he claimed that he couldn’t remember anyone yelling “build the wall” and “go back to the reservation,” that the chants that he and his fellow students shouted were “positive” displays of “school spirit.” According to Nick, the students, mostly wearing their MAGA hats, were reacting in fear to the “African-Americans” who shouted insults at them. Five Black Hebrew Israelites were seen on video calmly standing, and a sixth videoed them and the crowd while the Covington students was jumping, moving around, and shouting. Phillips led his group between the small group of blacks and the large group of Covington students, who then blocked him from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial.

Racism is “not tolerated” at his “Catholic school,” Nick said. Rev. Marshall Jolly disagrees with Nick’s assessment, as shown in his tweets about his experience with Covington. Nick said on Today that he saw no reason to apologize for what he called “listening to [Phillips] and standing there” and that he had every right to be there.

DDT’s response to Nick’s behavior:

“Nick Sandmann and the students of Covington have become symbols of Fake News and how evil it can be.”

A week earlier, DDT joked about the 1890 Wounded Knee massacre of several hundred Lakota Indians by the U.S. Cavalry when he ridiculed Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) with his customary insulting term of “Pocahontas.”

The dialog on both right and left sides in the past five days has demonstrated one thing: Nick learned from his school, his parents, and other adults that he has the right to stand wherever he wants, even if he is blocking an elder and the resources to hire anyone to threaten people who disagree with him. He feels no obligation to apologize to someone who he has upset, even if it was inadvertent. Males like Nick have a great future: Brett Kavanaugh is now a Supreme Court justice.

January 22, 2015

Stop the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Agreement

President Obama’s State of the Union speech earlier this week rated higher than his previous ones with 81 percent of the 31.7 viewers having a very or somewhat positive opinion and only 18 percent reacting negatively. Watchers’ confidence that the president’s policies “will move the country in the right direction” increased 15 percentage points from a pre-speech survey to 72 percent. The high point of the speech for many people happened after Republicans interrupted it with applause when the president said, “I have no more campaigns to run.” He responded, “I know, because I won both of them.” Democrats applauded, and Republicans whined about how nasty the president was.

On their website, House Republicans omitted a couple of the president’s statements.  some of the president’s statements. One was his saying that GOP tried to avoid discussion of climate change by saying that they are “not scientists,” and the other, the president’s statement about torture:

“As Americans, we respect human dignity, even when we’re threatened, which is why I’ve prohibited torture, and worked to make sure our use of new technology like drones is properly constrained. It’s why we speak out against the deplorable anti-Semitism that has resurfaced in certain parts of the world.”

In his response to the president, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) showed himself not yet ready for prime time when he interrupted his own speech about a minute into it by muttering, “Ah, lemme start again.” The video was pulled from YouTube but is available here.

The president’s one clinker in his speech was his support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the biggest trade deal in history with countries from Chile to Japan representing 792 million people and 40 percent of the world economy. It was worked out by lobbyists from the nation’s biggest corporations and banks with no participation from the U.S. public.People should know how bad this secret deal by the support from Republicans and rejection of Democrats.

The U.S. chose free trade, opening borders to products made overseas, after World War II to raise living standards and create different jobs. In the last few decades, the win-win situation of free trade skewed the payoff from trade agreements to those at the top. With low tariffs, negotiations are more concerned with protections for intellectual property while decreasing labor laws, financial regulations, and rules for health, safety, and the environment. Big Business still wants free trade while extending their trademarks, copyrights, and patents abroad and protecting their global franchise agreements, securities, and loans. With those rights, they want to stop interference with their profits by doing away with protection for consumers, workers, small investors, and the environment.

Leaks from the TPP proposal show it gives stronger patent protections for pharmaceutical industry to delay cheaper generic versions of drugs. Global corporations will gain an international tribunal of private attorneys, outside any nation’s legal system, who can order compensation for any “unjust expropriation” of foreign assets. The same tribunal can order compensation for any lost profits from a nation’s regulations. Right now, Philip Morris is using this provision against Uruguay in a bilateral trade treaty between that country and Switzerland; the corporation claims that their profits are unfairly diminished by Uruguay’s strong anti-smoking regulations. The year 2012 saw nearly sixty cases in which Big Business sued governments, most of them by U.S. companies trying to undo regulations in different countries.

With TPP’s “minimum standards” affecting financial regulations in a trade deal, a country could be ordered to pay an international bank if the government doesn’t bail out the failing institution. An example is the $200 million cost against the Czech Republic in 2006. TPP rules could also “curtail certain limitations on the size or the operations of financial firms,” according to a letter that three Senators sent U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman about their objections to his delegation’s provisions. The TPP could also stop any future financial transaction taxes.

Because the TPP lets Big Business eliminate all laws and regulations that threaten their profits, foreign subsidiaries of U.S.-based corporations can destroy regulations in the United States and take compensation from any laws that protect people from unsafe products or unhealthy foods, fraudulent securities or predatory lending, unsafe working conditions, and toxic emissions.

In his speech, the president claimed that the TPP will increase U.S. exports in its competition with China. The same agreement, however, lets U.S. corporations outsource even more jobs abroad. President Obama wants the TPP to be on “fast track” (aka Trade Promotion Authority) because he then gets the constitutional trade and legislative writing authority from the Congress. It prevents amendments and debates on any trade deal that the president negotiates.

At the end of the last century, NAFTA was supposed to be a boon to the United States. Instead it lost almost 700,000 jobs (60.8 percent in manufacturing), expanded inequality, degraded the environment, and destroyed Mexican agriculture. Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China lost over 2.7 million jobs in the U.S., and the Korea Free Trade Agreement destroyed another 70,000 jobs. The most recent South Korean trade pact has lost jobs and expanded U.S. trade deficits.

Proposed trade agreements such as TPP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) promise the same result. The TTIP agreement with Europe would drive the United States into the same horror of austerity as the EU. Like TTP, Big Business designed its further deregulation of economic, financial, health, labor, safety, privacy, and environmental protections to weaken labor and government. Yet the most optimistic projection of the trade agreement’s impact is a one-time increase of 0.1 percent of GDP.

Sen. Bernie Sanders has provided more ways that the TPP could hurt working families:

Outsourcing even more jobs overseas: More than 130,000 jobs would go to Vietnam and Japan alone. Also disappearing from the U.S. would be many of these service sector jobs in outsource call centers; computer programming; engineering; accounting; and medical diagnostic jobs. More manufacturing jobs would vanish because the TPP provides special benefits to firms that offshore jobs and reduces risks associated with operating in low-wage countries.

Benefiting and expanding Wall Street at everyone else’s expense and financial instability: TPP would stop governments from imposing “capital controls” to avoid financial crises. There can be no financial speculation tax to limit huge transfers of speculative capital in and out of countries responsible for the Asian financial crisis in the 1990s.

Threatening wages, benefits, and collective bargaining: Workers in the U.S. will be competing with those in Vietnam where the minimum wage is 56 cents per hour. 

Undermining environmental protection: Pending claims worth over $14 billion have been filed in other countries on the basis that regulations, mostly environmental, negatively impact future profits. International tribunals will bypass domestic courts to decide these cases.

Ending “Buy America” laws: TPP requires equal access to foreign corporations for competition in contracting with the government. Even companies with horrible human rights records must receive government contracts paid by U.S. taxpayers.

Rewarding authoritarian regimes: The TPP would give all countries, even those that violate basic international standards for human rights, duty-free access to the U.S. market. The Sony hackings could not be reported under TPP rules.

The TPP has no expiration date. It can be repealed only with the consensus of all the countries that agree to it. Other countries, such as China, can also join the TPP in the future.

Two weeks ago, Sanders asked Michael Froman, the chief trade representative for the U.S., to submit the full text of the proposed TPP.  At this time, Congress can assess the proposal only through a few leaked documents. If Froman turns down Sanders’ request, he has asked for the legal basis for a denial. Sanders also plans to introduce a bill requiring that the contents of any trade agreement being negotiated by the U.S. would be made public with the request of any member of Congress.

If the TPP were good for people of the U.S. , it wouldn’t be secret. ISIL is less of a threat to the people of the United States than the proposed trade agreements are. All we can hope for is that the Republicans hate President Obama so much that they won’t give him anything he wants even if the GOP might support it.

[More horrifying information about TPP is available here. And here.]

January 24, 2012

State of the Union Speech

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 8:15 PM
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January brings the president’s State of the Union speech. As I listened to the one tonight, I felt like standing and cheering—the way that the far-right does when they contemplate people dying because they don’t have insurance and when they hear the appalling statistics on how many people are legally killed in Texas because of the death penalty.

The first thing that made me sit up, however, was when I heard him say that women deserved equal pay for equal work. The most jarring thing about my response, however, was how surprised I was to hear it: it’s been a long time since anyone in power suggested this that I’d forgotten that it might be a possibility.

Writing for The Hill before the speech, Rep. John Mica (R-FL) criticized the Democrats because they had not tried to build the country’s infrastructure. Florida is one of the states that turned down $2 billion and its jobs for high-speed rail. He wrote about Democrats’ failure to authorize long-term aviation measures, yet Mica led the charge to prevent any aviation measures until union workers lost their rights.

He also passes along the myth that “Democrats controlled Congress.” Any control that Democrats might have, disappeared when Republicans demanded a 60-percent approval on any measure because of the huge number of filibusters by Republicans. Republicans are committed to stopping Democrats doing anything positive that people in this country would like because of their fear that it lessens the possibility that conservatives will get elected. They are willing to sell out the people of this country in order to get their own way.

According to Mica, the Republicans call the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act as a “jobs proposal.” He failed to mention that this act would open part of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling while forcing the Interior Department to issue commercial leases for oil shale development on public lands. The Republicans are willing to extort a plan to destroy the planet by claiming that this will be a “jobs plan.”

Mica also complained that the Democrats “tried to sell the $787 billion stimulus as a jobs creator.” He neglected to mention that the Republicans forced Congress to give half the money in this plan away without the objective of creating jobs except for these people spending it. He is also wrong: the Congressional Budget Office reported that the stimulus plan increased employment by up to 3.3 million people.

In his response, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels gave the standard tired Republican response of how wrong President Obama is to describe the country as a place of haves and have nots. He ignored the fact that almost half the people in this country are classified as low-income or poor while the vast majority of the wealth resides with the top 1 percent.

Instead of facts, Daniels talks about the United States as a “land of opportunity,” as he tries to destroy the middle class in his own state through creating a “right to work” law. Economic Policy Institute says that workers tend to earn $1500/yr less as a result, and I’m guessing that it’s much more than that in Daniels’ home state while he removes union rights through—you guessed it—big government at the same time that he criticizes President Obama for government control.

When considering tonight’s State of the Union speech and the responses—not only the one from Daniels but also the Tea Party responder, Herman Cain–think about these facts:

• Since the last SOTU, the economy has created 1.9 million private sector jobs.

• The top 1 percent take home 24 percent of the nation’s income, up from about 9 percent in 1976.

• Private sector job creation under Obama in 2011 was larger than seven out of the eight years Bush was president.

• The top 1 percent of Americans own 40 percent of our country’s wealth while the bottom 80 percent owns only 7 percent.

• Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million young adults gained health insurance.

• For every one job opening, there are four people looking for work.

• Last year, China spent 9 percent of its GDP on infrastructure. The U.S. spent 2.5 percent.

• 2.65 million seniors saved an average of $569 on prescriptions last year thanks to the Affordable Care Act.

• Union membership is at a 70-year low.

• Unemployment benefits have lifted 3.2 million people out of poverty.

• The United States used to have the world’s largest percentage of college graduates. It is now #14.

• One quarter of all contributions to federal campaigns come from 0.01 percent of Americans.

• 47.8 percent of households that receive food stamps are working, because having a job is not enough to keep them out of poverty.

• In the last three years, 30 major corporations spent more on lobbying than they paid in taxes.

• 50 percent of U.S. workers make less than $26,364 per year.

• More than one in 70 faced home foreclosure last year.

• Since 1985, the federal tax rate for the 400 wealthiest Americans dropped from 29 percent to 18 percent.

Jen Bendery of Huffington Post writes: “Obama used Tuesday’s State of the Union address to lay out a vision of America in which everybody gets a fair shot at economic success and everybody–including “the wealthy”–plays by the same rules as the average citizen. Obama’s address, which comes in the midst of a rapidly escalating presidential campaign season, delivered a strong message about the need for social and economic equality and put forward a handful of new policy ideas targeting tax reform, college affordability and clean energy. But by and large, Obama’s third State of the Union was focused on proposals for boosting the economy and ensuring protections for the middle class.”

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