who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. The Trans-Pacific Partnership
and the Death of the
2. Shell lobbied to undermine EU
of the New Black Radicals
4. Why So Many Americans Feel So Powerless
5. Bill Black: Obama & TPP –
Every One That Doeth Evil
Hateth the Light
This is a Nederlog of Monday, April 27,
is a crisis blog. There are 5 items with 5 dotted links:
Item 1 is about an excellent
article by Ellen Brown; item 2 is about how Royal
Dutch Shell + Barosso furthered the interests of Shell much rather than
those of the EU;
item 3 is about an article of Chris Hedges
on "new black radicals"; item 4 is
about an article by Robert Reich on American feelings of powerlessness;
item 5 is about a fine article by Bill
Black on Obama and the TPP.
Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Death of the Republic
item today is an article by Ellen Brown
(<- Wikipedia) on Truthdig, but originally on Ellen Brown's Web of Debt:
This starts as follows:
Maybe you should read
this again... (but yes, all of it is quite true to the best of
The United States shall
guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.
— Article IV, Section
4, US Constitution
A republican form of
government is one in which power resides in elected officials
representing the citizens, and government leaders exercise power
according to the rule of law. In The Federalist Papers, James
Madison defined a republic as “a government which derives all its
powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people . . . .”
On April 22, 2015, the
Senate Finance Committee approved
a bill to fast-track the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a massive
trade agreement that would override our republican form of government
and hand judicial and legislative authority to a foreign three-person
panel of corporate lawyers.
The secretive TPP is an
agreement with Mexico, Canada, Japan, Singapore and seven other
countries that affects 40% of global markets. Fast-track authority
could now go to the full Senate for a vote as early as next week.
Fast-track means Congress will be prohibited from amending the trade
deal, which will be put to a simple up or down majority vote. Negotiating
the TPP in secret and fast-tracking it through Congress is
considered necessary to secure its passage, since if the public had
time to review its onerous provisions, opposition would mount and
Here is the first part of Ellen Brown's main argument that the
TPP (and the TTIP) will be the death of the American Republic:
For more on the
"capitalization of profit" a.k.a. “the
expectation of gain or profit”
Abdicating the Judicial Function to Corporate Lawyers
James Madison wrote in The
The accumulation of all
powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, . . .
may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. . . . “Were
the power of judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty
of the subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judgethe
legislator. . . .” would then be
And that, from what we
now know of the TPP’s secret provisions, will be its dire effect.
The most controversial
provision of the TPP is the Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS)
section, which strengthens existing ISDS procedures. ISDS first
appeared in a bilateral trade agreement in 1959. According
to The Economist, ISDS gives foreign firms a special
right to apply to a secretive tribunal of highly paid corporate lawyers
for compensation whenever the government passes a law to do things that
hurt corporate profits — such things as discouraging smoking,
protecting the environment or preventing a nuclear catastrophe.
Arbitrators are paid
$600-700 an hour, giving them little incentive to dismiss cases; and
the secretive nature of the arbitration process and the lack of any
requirement to consider precedent gives wide scope for creative
To date, the highest ISDS
award has been for $2.3 billion to Occidental Oil Company against the
government of Ecuador over its termination of an oil-concession
contract, this although the termination was apparently legal. Still in
arbitration is a demand by Vattenfall, a Swedish utility that operates
two nuclear plants in Germany, for compensation of €3.7 billion ($4.7
billion) under the ISDS clause of a treaty on energy investments, after
the German government decided to shut down its nuclear power industry
following the Fukushima disaster in Japan in 2011.
Under the TPP, however,
even larger judgments can be anticipated, since the sort of
“investment” it protects includes not just “the commitment of capital
or other resources” but “the
expectation of gain or profit.” That means the rights of
corporations in other countries extend not just to their factories and
other “capital” but to the profits they expect to receive there.
I refer you to yesterday's "The TPP: Toward Absolutist Capitalism".
Incidentally, the TTP and the TTIP not only mean the death of the
American Republic, as a democracy, as a somewhat fair system, as a
nation ruled by its own laws, and as a place where poor people are
protected, but the effective death of every republic in the
treaty (because their own laws and decisions all will
be subject to the TPP), which means in the case of the TTIP also the
death of the European Union - which will probably disappear as little
as the U.S. will, but will be another region that is totally
owned by the big corporations, and totally milked for
profit. (And damn the 90%!)
Here is the second part
of Ellen Brown's main argument that the TPP (and the TTIP) will be the
death of the American Republic:
Note again that this also
means the end of all national laws - all decisions by
all parliaments and all national ministers - of any
kind that might limit the expectations of profits of
the multi-national corporations (for if it does, they can go to
a secret court ran by their very own corporate lawyers, that will
convict - without appeal, in secret - everyone of the
inhabitants of the convicted country to pay (in taxes) what they claimed
they might have lost).
Abdicating the Legislative Function to Multinational
Just the threat of this
sort of massive damage award could be enough to block prospective
legislation. But the TPP goes further and takes on the legislative
function directly, by forbidding specific forms of regulation.
observes that the TPP would provide big banks with a backdoor means
of watering down efforts to re-regulate Wall Street, after deregulation
triggered the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression:
The TPP would forbid
countries from banning particularly risky financial products, such as
the toxic derivatives that led to the $183 billion government bailout
of AIG. It would prohibit policies to prevent banks from becoming “too
big to fail,” and threaten the use of “firewalls” to prevent banks that
keep our savings accounts from taking hedge-fund-style bets.
The TPP would also
restrict capital controls, an essential policy tool to counter
destabilizing flows of speculative money. . . . And the deal would
prohibit taxes on Wall Street speculation, such as the proposed Robin
Hood Tax that would generate billions of dollars’ worth of revenue for
social, health, or environmental causes.
The TPP would empower not just foreign manufacturers but foreign
financial firms to attack financial policies in foreign tribunals,
demanding taxpayer compensation for regulations that they claim
frustrate their expectations and inhibit their profits.
Here is the third
part of Ellen
Brown's main argument that the TPP (and the TTIP) will be the death of
the American Republic:
I agree with everything
Ellen Brown said, except for the very last part: I think they know very
well what they are doing, but since they will make millions or billions
they just do not care.
Preempting Government Sovereignty
What is the justification
for this encroachment on the sovereign rights of government?
Something else besides
attracting investment money and encouraging foreign trade seems to be
going on. The TPP would destroy our republican form of government under
the rule of law, by elevating the rights of investors – also called the
rights of “capital” – above the rights of the citizens.
That means that TPP is
blatantly unconstitutional. But as Joe Firestone observes,
neo-liberalism and corporate contributions seem to have blinded the
deal’s proponents so much that they cannot see they are selling out the
sovereignty of the United States to foreign and multinational
And this is an excellent article, in which there is
considerably more: You really should read all of it. Finally, here are
5 links, the first to Ellen Brown's web, which I added, and the others
from the end of the article:
For more information
and to get involved, visit:
Web of Debt
Flush the TPP
The Citizens Trade Campaign
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch
Eyes on Trade
2. Shell lobbied to undermine EU renewables
targets, documents reveal
item is an article by Arthur Neslen on The Guardian:
This starts as follows
(and is here mainly because of the previous item plus the fact that
Royal Dutch Shell is Dutch, and so am I):
lobbied to undermine European renewable energy targets ahead of a key
agreement on emissions cuts reached in October last year, newly released
At the time of the deal
European commission president, Jose Manuel Barroso, said: “This package
is very good news for our fight against climate change.” Adding: “No
player in the world is as ambitious as the EU.”
But it now appears that a
key part of the agreement – which was championed by the UK government –
was proposed by a Shell lobbyist as early as October 2011.
released to the Guardian under freedom of information laws show that as
far back as October 2011, Shell had begun lobbying the Barroso, who was
succeeded by Jean-Claude Juncker last November, to scrap the bloc’s
existing formula for linking carbon-cutting goals with binding
renewable energy laws.
So Barroso spoke like a
sick and corrupted liar. I am not amazed at all, to put it as neutrally
as I can.
And incidentally, the elites that control the EU are much in
favor of the TPIP, that will be even worse than the TPP.
There is considerably more under the last dotted link.
Rise of the New Black Radicals
item is an article by Chris Hedges on Truthdig:
This starts as follows:
Hm. I agree that it
isn't pleasant to be black and poor in the present United States, and I
agree that there are many unpunished "murders of young black men and women by police in the United
States", but I also recall the Black Panther Party
(<- Wikipedia), which was active from 1966-1982, and identified
itself as "anti-capitalist, anti-fascist, anti-imperialist,
marxist-leninist, revolutionary socialist and anti-racist" (quoted from
Wikipedia). I'd say that they mostly failed in their
objectives, for quite a number of reasons, and quite a few fine
black young men and women lost their lives.
The almost daily murders
of young black men and women by police in the United States—a crisis
undiminished by the protests of groups such as Black Lives Matter and
by the empty rhetoric of black political elites—have given birth to a
new young black militant.
This militant, rising off
the bloody streets of cities such as Ferguson, Mo., understands that
the beast is not simply white supremacy, chronic poverty and the many
faces of racism but the destructive energy of corporate capitalism.
This militant has given up on electoral politics, the courts and
legislative reform, loathes the corporate press and rejects established
black leaders such as Barack Obama, Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Michael
Eric Dyson. This militant believes it is only in the streets and in
acts of civil disobedience that change is possible. And given the
refusal of the corporate state to address the mounting suffering of the
poor and working poor, draconian state repression and indiscriminate
use of lethal state violence against unarmed people of color, I think
the new black radical is right. It will be a long, hot and violent
Then there is this:
which knows what is coming, has put in place sophisticated systems of
control that include militarized police, elaborate propaganda campaigns
that seek to make us fearful and therefore passive, wholesale
surveillance of every citizen and a court system that has stripped
legal protection from the poor and any who dissent. The masses are to
be kept in bondage. But the masses, especially the young, understand
the game. There is a word for what is bubbling up from
below—revolution. It can’t begin soon enough.
I disagree. And I do not
disagree because I am against "revolution" (my
parents and grandparents were marxist revolutionaries, some - such as
both of my parents - for more than 40 years) but because making
a successful revolution is far from easy, and much
depends on the right circumstances, the right ideas, considerable relevant knowledge, and the right
kind of organization. And as far as I can see the circumstances aren't
there (yet), and the ideas, the knowledge and the degree of
organization do not amount to much or anything.
But OK - I am not black and not American, and you may
disagree. The rest of the four pages the article takes consists of
Chris Hedges' notes on interviews he had with black men and women. It
didn't change what I just said.
4. Why So Many Americans Feel So Powerless
The next item is an article
by Robert Reich on his site:
starts as follows:
I have plenty of the
same experiences, indeed for more than thirtyfive years,
which also suggests it is not just the present circumstances.
A security guard recently
told me he didn’t know how much he’d be earning from week to week
firm kept changing his schedule
and his pay. “They just don’t care,” he said.
A traveler I met in the
Dallas Fort-Worth Airport last week said she’d been there eight hours
airline responsible for her trip wouldn’t help her find another flight
that evening. “They don’t give a hoot,” she said.
Someone I met in North
Carolina a few weeks ago told me he had stopped voting because elected
officials don’t respond to what average people like him think or want.
don’t listen,” he said.
What connects these dots?
As I travel around America, I’m struck by how utterly powerless most
(As an aside: My experiences are fairly well explained in "ME in Amsterdam", but this
is in Dutch: I have lived for three years next to a completely
crazy terrorist thug who attacked me and tried to murder me: nobody
did anything for three years; I have lived above an illegal
coffeeshop that was operated by illegal drugsdealers, who had
gotten personal permission of Amsterdam's mayor to deal drugs,
and who threatened to murder me and almost killed me by gassing me;
I have been removed - while seriously ill - from the University
of Amsterdam on the extremely offensive grounds that I
was "a fascist" and "a terrorist" because I asked critical questions as an invited
speaker, and much, much more, though these are the three highlights -
and every time I discovered I was completely alone: No
one cared, no one helped, no one did anything
for me. And those who threatened to murder me were protected by
the Amsterdam police, as were the scum that dealt in soft and hard
drugs and murder threats. Incidentally: Nothing of "ME in Amsterdam" was ever
contradicted by anyone. And quite a few lawyers also refused to act for me, on
the ground that my complaints were "too political". And thus your life,
your chances, and your character are systematically denied and
Here is some more that Reich says:
percent of Americans are served by just one Internet
Service Provider – usually Comcast, AT&T, or Time-Warner.
The biggest banks have
become far bigger. In 1990, the five biggest held just 10 percent of
banking assets. Now they hold almost 45
Giant health insurers are
larger; the giant hospital chains, far bigger; the most powerful
(Amazon, Facebook, Google), gigantic.
All this means less
consumer choice, which translates into less power.
Our complaints go
nowhere. Often we can’t even find a real person to complain to.
menus go on interminably.
Yes indeed - and your
letters and e-mails also are not answered, not answered, not answered,
and again not answered: You are treated as a sub-human without any
(Aside: My many
letters and e-mails to the Amsterdam city-government who personally
permitted the dealers in soft and hard drugs to deal their drugs and
their murder-threats were never answered; the Amsterdam police
even refused to take any complaint by me after the dealers -
who already had threatened to murder me, against which I also was not
allowed to make any complaint - were arrested with 2 kiloos of heroin
and 1 kilo of cocain (I suppose by a very young cop who didn't
understand the real rules by which Amsterdam plays) etc. etc.)
Here is Reich's explanation for his title:
Well... yes and no: Yes,
there are such "feelings", and yes, there are very many who feel "a growing sense
of powerlessness in all aspects of [their] lives".
Our economy and society
depend on most people feeling the system is working for them.
But a growing sense
of powerlessness in all aspects of our lives – as workers, consumers,
and voters – is convincing most people the system is working only for
those at the top.
But it is not just "feelings" or "senses":
It is a fact
that most of the powers ordinary people had in the sixties and
seventies have almost entirely disappeared; it is a fact that
many of the rights people have are so much hollowed out that
they cannot be exercised anymore; and it is a fact that the
majority of the American people has to work more and earns
5. Bill Black: Obama & TPP – Every One
That Doeth Evil
Hateth the Light
item today is an article by Yves Smith (the introduction) and Bill Black
(<- Wikipedia) on Naked Capitalism:
First, there is this
from Yves Smith's introduction, which addresses Obama's lies that the
TTP "can be read by Congressmen":
Besides, if the
Congressmen manages to get something, and remembers it, he
And finally, for the
Administration to insinuate that the TPP will result in greater
transparency is dubious, given that it’s made it well-nigh impossible
for anyone in Congress to do a proper review of the text. While the US
Trade Representative technically allows access, in practice, that right
is empty. The Congressman himself must read the text; no sending
staffers or bringing experts allowed, and only staffers from the
committees with direct oversight of trade bills (the Senate Finance
Committee and the House Ways and Means Committee) are allowed to join
their bosses. The USTR insists that the Congressman specify what
chapter he wants to review in advance. The USTR then insists that the
negotiator of those chapters be present. Since those negotiators
travel, it usually takes three or four weeks to find a convenient time.
No note-taking is allowed.
is not allowed to discuss it with anyone else, for that
would endanger "National Security". Says Obama.
Here is Bill
Black's argument on how Obama is eagerly and very dishonestly serving
the corporate rich at the cost of everyone else, and also at the cost
of - willfully - destroying the Republic he was elected to serve:
Quite so! And here is
some more on the letter of Senators Warren and Brown,
Similarly, the even more
conservative Frédéric Bastiat famously warned:
When plunder becomes a
way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create
for themselves in the course of time a legal system that
authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it.
TPP is the legal system
designed to authorize plunder with impunity. Economists are the priests
that glorifies the CEOs’ plunder. When you allow CEOs’ lobbyists to
secretly draft a deal and then make it impossible through “fast track”
for the public or our representatives to vote down even the most
despicable of these acts of CEO plunder you make it certain that the
law will bring plunder rather than “free trade.”
There are five aspects of
Obama’s deal that are indefensible and will cause immense damage to the
base and the public at large – and Obama’s efforts to smear critics of
these indefensible provisions adds a sixth aspect that cries out for
rejection. It is indefensible to:
I have explained these last
two points in more detail in the past. These provisions of TPP are so
bad that they are depraved – and we have abundant, terrible, and global
experience under past, more limited Faux Trade deals with
the same provisions to know that the word “depraved” is the appropriate
- Draft the deal in
secret from the public – through classifying the TPP drafts as
purported “national security” information. There was, and is, zero
basis for classifying the drafts.
- Allow CEOs’ lobbyists
to secretly draft provisions of the deal.
- “Fast track” the bill,
making it impossible to remove even the worst plundering through the
- Give away U.S. and
other nations’ sovereignty to a kangaroo (non) court dominated by
lawyers for CEOs.
- Allow these kangaroo
non-courts to destroy vital regulations and bankrupt nations at the
behest of the worst corporate CEO plunderers – exposing the world to
even more frequent and severe financial crises.
and the sick and incredible decision to classify the drafts of the TPP
as "national security secrets":
But the TPP may pass - unread,
uncriticised, unamended, and as "a national security secret" - through
Congress real soon...
In essence, Warren and
Brown have invoked scripture.
John 3:20-21 King James
Obama did not simply allow
lobbyists to largely draft TPP in secret – he classified
their drafts – treating them as national security secrets. This would
be downright funny if it were not so wicked. It is most certainly
revealing about the fact that Obama and the lobbyists knew that the
drafts were so outrageous in their substance that Obama had to take
preposterous steps to safeguard them from honest experts.
every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the
light, lest his deeds should be reproved.
he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made
manifest, that they are wrought in God.