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Friday Talking Points [350] -- Bernie Sanders Shows Democrats What "Family Values" Should Mean

[ Posted Friday, June 12th, 2015 – 16:53 PDT ]

We begin with a story which is just ripe for mixing a few metaphors: The Iowa Republican Party just announced today that they are cancelling the Iowa Straw Poll.

The metaphors can immediately get twisted, since "the final straw which broke the camel's back" doesn't really work -- it'd have to be "the final straw which broke the elephant's back," of course! Then there's always the classic anti-war spin on things: "What if they gave a straw poll and nobody showed up?" And finally, the most delicious piece of irony: Michele Bachmann will go down in history as the winner of the final Iowa Straw Poll, held back in 2012. Remember the reign of President Bachmann? Me neither.

The Iowa Straw Poll had already outlasted whatever usefulness it may or may not ever have had, even back in 2012. It's not some centuries-old tradition, as the first one was held in 1979. Its core reason for being has always been to transfer money from all the Republican presidential campaigns directly into the coffers of the state Republican Party organization. The entire "poll" was nothing but a sham where the candidates tried to outdo each other in nakedly buying votes. So we certainly are joining in the chorus saying "good riddance" to this mockery of democracy.

Other late-breaking Friday news: House Democrats have (for now) derailed President Obama's trade agenda. Why that "for now" is in there is complicated and involves parliamentary moves on multiple bills, but the basic upshot is that Obama lost an important vote, 302 to 126. That's a pretty hefty margin, although the core fast-track bill did barely pass, 219 to 211. Trade deals are one subject (one of the very few left) which do not break down on party line. Both the Republicans and the Democrats are split over the issue, so it's not a repeat of the usual partisan battlelines. But it is a clear defeat for Obama, who lobbied hard to very little effect.

Eventually, the subject will become a ripe one in the presidential contest -- for both parties -- but for now many major candidates have been able to ignore it. We'll see what happens on both the Republican and Democratic sides in the next few weeks. The trade issue isn't dead -- what the House did today is not going to be the final vote by far -- so this issue, as the pundits say, still "has legs."

An interesting thing is happening down in Louisiana, home state of presidential aspirant Bobby Jindal. The Republicans in the state (led by Governor Jindal) have slashed taxes in an orgy of conservative ideological lawmaking. The inevitable result of this "trickle-down" nonsense is, of course, that the state now has a $1.6 billion budget deficit. The problem could be fixed by raising taxes, but pretty much every Republican in the state government has bowed down to the godhood of Grover Norquist, and his holy "we will never raise taxes ever" pledge. What to do? Increase the stupidity, that's what!

George H. W. Bush famously called Reagan's trickle-down plans "voodoo economics," which is an entirely fitting description of what Louisiana Republicans are trying to do right now. First, the state will create a new "fee" for all college students. In the Norquistian religion, "fees" are somehow not the same as "taxes." But here's where the truly stupid part begins: these fees are then refunded back to the students as a state tax credit. This credit is then signed over to the college, to pay the fee. The state charges a fee, then gives the same amount to students to pay the fee, so the state winds up in exactly the same fiscal position as if this idiotic scheme hadn't happened. Peter pays Paul, who puts the payment back in Peter's pocket (say that three times fast, I dare you). Zero sum, right? Well, not precisely. Because in the Norquistian theology, while the "fee" doesn't count as a "tax," the "tax credit" does somehow count as "lowering taxes" -- which the lawmakers can then use to offset the real taxes they need to raise. In the gospel according to Norquist (hallowed be his name), this all somehow magically protects all the Republicans from ever having broken the "no new taxes" pledge, through the divine intervention of the fee/tax credit scheme.

Well, hey, any religion always looks hilarious to outsiders, as Robert A. Heinlein actually pointed out a long time ago ("One man's religion is another man's belly laugh").

This isn't exactly an isolated incident, either, since there are many Republican-led states who joined in the tax-slashing orgy a few years back, and are now painfully confronting the fact that they have no choice now but to raise taxes to solve their budget shortfalls. The moral of the story, as always: Republican voodoo trickle-down math never adds up. Ever. Oh, and also, if Bobby Jindal is looking for a big fat example of why Republicans are known as (in his words) "the party of stupid," he need look no further than his own ridiculous bookkeeping.

Speaking of presidential candidates, let's check in on how everyone's doing with the public. Seems that pretty much all the Democrats do better in "favorable" polling than almost all the Republicans, but the Washington Post wasn't satisfied with just real-world examples, so they tossed in a few ringers -- fictional "bad guy" characters. The results are pretty damn funny, we have to say.

The only two real people who don't have negative ratings (calculated as favorable percentage minus unfavorable percentage) are Bernie Sanders (at plus-1) and Marco Rubio (at exactly even). Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are both at minus-4 points. But the fictional characters do much better -- the "Terminator" gets a whopping plus-19 rating, and both Darth Vader and the shark from Jaws pull around 10 percent. The only baddie with a negative rating is Voldemort, from the Harry Potter franchise, who gets around negative-12. But the really funny thing is who Voldemort beats out for favorability with the public: Mike Huckabee, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Rick Santorum. At the very bottom of this list are two others with unfavorable ratings in entirely different ballparks than anyone else: Chris Christie at a stunning negative-26, and Donald Trump with an absolutely jaw-dropping (or maybe "yuge," as he would say) rating of minus-56.

Moving right along from the ridiculous to the sublime, Lindsey Graham made some news when he stated that, since he is single, he'd be open to having "rotating first ladies" in the White House, should he become president. He could have more than one, is what we assume he's saying. This was mildly amusing, but then Senator Mark Kirk got caught on a live microphone talking about it, and it got a whole lot funnier. Kirk, who even before this gaffe was considered the most-vulnerable Republican senator in the 2016 election, said the following: "I've been joking with Lindsey. Did you see that? He's going to have a rotating first lady. He's a bro with no ho." Anyone want to bet that quip is going to appear in some political ads soon? Heh.

Let's see, what else? The Koch brothers are apparently trying to just flat-out become the Republican Party themselves, much to the annoyance of the Republican National Committee. Republican-on-Republican spats are always such fun to watch, aren't they?

And we guess we'll wrap up with a short marijuana news update. There's good news this week, and then there's news that sounds bad but is actually a lot better than what it could have been. Let's start with that last one first. The House of Representatives attached a measure to a budget bill which would prevent legal sales of marijuana to occur in the District of Columbia for two years. That sounds bad, but it actually is good news because of what the House didn't do -- directly attack the voter-passed initiative which legalized recreational marijuana in Washington D.C. The House could have tried to overturn the new law, but declined to make this attempt. Which is why it represents at least a partial victory for marijuana advocates. This measure, rather stupidly, means continuing the black market in weed rather than allowing sales to be properly taxed -- leaving a whole lot of money out of the District's coffers. But then nobody ever said the War On Weed was supposed to make sense, right?

And finally, the Senate began acting on what the House already passed, a measure which flat-out forbids the Justice Department (which includes the D.E.A.) from spending one thin dime on cracking down on medical marijuana in states which have legalized it. The vote, in the Senate Appropriations Committee, was a healthy 22 to 8. The times, they are indeed a-changin'.

 

Most Impressive Democrat of the Week

All Democrats against Obama's trade deal were pretty impressive today, so we're going to hand out our first Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award to Nancy Pelosi, who reportedly led the charge.

Whether you agree with Obama or agree with Pelosi on trade, you have to admit that Minority Leader Pelosi still wields quite a bit of influence within her party's caucus. For this reason alone, Pelosi deserves her MIDOTW award.

But we've got to also hand out another Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week statuette this week as well. Senator Bernie Sanders was in the news this week for schooling a National Public Radio reporter, who had read on some unspecified online list a lie about Sanders and then repeated it to his face: "Senator, you have dual citizenship with Israel." Sanders replied forcefully that this was "nonsense," and reporter Diane Rehm had to eventually admit that she had fallen down in the fact-checking department in a major way. Bernie really should be in the news for the fact that his rallies are pulling in much bigger crowds than anyone expected, but the media is largely ignoring this story, of course.

But none of that is why Sanders is getting his ninth MIDOTW this week. But since we're going to explain why in great detail in the talking points section, we'll just provide Bernie's official contact information here, and get to the actual reason he won (his new presidential platform) a bit later.

[Congratulate House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi on her official contact page, and Senator Bernie Sanders on his Senate contact page, to let them know you appreciate their efforts.]

 

Most Disappointing Democrat of the Week

It's rare, but every so often the winner of the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week describes in his or her own words precisely how awful his behavior truly was. This week's winner, Gordon Fox, is one of these rare cases.

Fox was formerly the speaker of the Rhode Island house of representatives. He abused this position to enrich himself, and pled guilty this March to bribery, wire fraud, and filing a false tax return. The bribery was a $50,000 payoff from a Providence restaurant, and he further siphoned over $100,000 from his campaign accounts for personal use. Fox was sentenced this week to three years in prison.

The extraordinary thing, though, was what he had to say about it. In a political world filled with non-apology "apologies," it's rare when someone speaks so bluntly about their own misdeeds. From the Huffington Post news article, here is what Fox had to say for himself:

After tearfully declaring himself a disgrace, former Rhode Island House Speaker Gordon Fox was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison for corruption, saying he had been driven by greed, a desire to keep up with the Joneses and "just plain stupidity."

. . .

Crying, Fox apologized to his family, friends and to the state when he addressed the court. He described himself as a "lawbreaker, a disappointment and a disgrace, quite frankly."

"I accept full responsibility for my actions. No excuses, no justifications," the Democrat said. "I committed illegal acts and I'm very sorry for it."

. . .

"People put a lot of faith in me," he said. "I terribly destroyed that."

. . .

As bills mounted, Fox said, and "it became very easy to push a button" and transfer money from his campaign account. It wasn't one $100,000 transfer, Fox said, "it was bit by bit by bit by bit."

While we certainly can't admire the actions Fox took to get himself into this mess, we can and do admire his actions after he was caught. He pled guilty, he admitted his crimes, and he didn't try to offer any excuses for his behavior. Instead, he (quite correctly) labeled himself a disgrace.

His corruption certainly earns him this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, but his owning up to his crimes and his unqualified apology (at the very least) have to be applauded. We certainly hope future dirty politicians will learn from Fox, when caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

[Gordon Fox stepped down from his public office the day after the cops raided his office, so he is now a private citizen. Our longstanding policy is not to provide contact information on people who are out of public life.]

 

Friday Talking Points

Volume 350 (6/12/15)

Have we really written 350 of these things? Wow. And yet, so far, no offers of enormous piles of money to syndicate the column have materialized. Oh, well, such is life. Heh.

Last week, we turned over the talking points to Hillary Clinton. Oh, we should also mention here in passing that last week's column only appeared on ChrisWeigant.com, due to scheduling pressures beyond our control -- so if you missed it, go check it out now. But since we spotlighted Hillary last week, this week we are doing the same thing for Bernie Sanders. We can easily do so because Senator Sanders absolutely knocked it out of the park this week, with his announcement of his own "Family Values Agenda." This is brilliant on many levels, in fact. In the first place, it is a direct attack on the Republican Party's use of the "family values" term. Bernie very successfully takes this term back and shows what it should mean for all Democrats. In the second place, pretty much all of the items on this list would be wildly popular with the public, if they ever got the chance to hear these proposals. And lastly, Bernie is laying down a clear marker with actual legislation to back it up, and by doing so he successfully challenges all other presidential candidates (especially from his own party) to either agree with him or explain why they don't.

As I said, Bernie knocked it out of the park. And the statement he released when announcing this agenda was also a stellar performance, both in terms of pure politics and in terms of crafting talking points. Which is why we're reproducing most of it below, as our talking points this week. They're so clearly written that we didn't even need to write introductions to each excerpt.

For those interested in reading more, Politics USA has a good overview article, or you can download [PDF] both the Family Values Agenda fact sheet (which provides more facts and figures to back up his policy ideas) and the full text of Bernie's announcement.

 

1
   Real family values, instead of attacks on the family

When my Republican colleagues talk about "family values," what they usually mean is opposition to a woman's right to choose, opposition to contraception, opposition to gay rights. Let me today give a somewhat different perspective on family values -- on real family values.

When a mother has a baby and is unable to spend time with that child during the first weeks and months of that baby's life, and is forced back to work because of a lack of money, that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for. When a wife is diagnosed with cancer and a husband cannot get time off of work to take care of her, that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for. When a mother is forced to send her sick child to school because she cannot afford to stay home with her that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for. When a husband, wife, and kids, during the course of an entire year, are unable to spend any time together on vacation -- that is not a family value. That is an attack on everything that a family is supposed to stand for.

 

2
   What about American exceptionalism?

The United States of America is the only advanced economy that does not guarantee its workers some form of paid family leave, paid sick time or paid vacation time. In other words, when it comes to basic workplace protections and family benefits, workers in every other major industrialized country in the world get a better deal than workers in the United States. That is wrong. That is a travesty. And that has got to change.

Last place is no place for America. It is time to join the rest of the industrialized world by showing the people of this country that we are not just a nation that talks about family values but that we are a nation that is prepared to live up to these ideals by making sure that workers in this country have access to paid family leave, paid sick time and paid vacations just like workers in every other wealthy country on earth.

 

3
   Mother and child reunion

What kind of family value is it when you tell a woman who has just had a baby that she can't spend time with that child, but that she has to go back to work? That is not a family value. That is an insult to every mother, father and baby in this country and that has got to change.

The reality is that the Family and Medical Leave Act that was signed into law in 1993 is totally inadequate. Today, nearly 8 out of 10 workers in this country who are eligible to take time off under this law cannot do so because they could not afford it (according to the Department of Labor). Even worse, 40 percent of American workers are not even eligible to receive this unpaid leave because they work for a company with fewer than 50 employees.

In my view, every worker in America should be guaranteed at least 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave -- and that is why I am supporting the FAMILY Act introduced by Senator Gillibrand. The FAMILY Act would guarantee employees 12 weeks of paid family and medical leave to take care of a baby; to help a family member who is diagnosed with cancer or has some other serious medical condition; or to take care of themselves if they become seriously ill. And just like Social Security retirement and disability, it is an insurance program that workers would pay into, at a price of about one cup of coffee a week.

 

4
   Paid sick leave

In my view, it is absurd that low wage workers in McDonald's who get sick are forced to work because they cannot afford to miss work. Not only is this bad for the workers who are sick, it is also a public health issue.

That is why I am supporting the Healthy Families Act, introduced by Sen. Patty Murray, which guarantees seven days of paid sick leave to American workers. This bill would benefit 43 million Americans who don't already have access to paid sick leave, and it would create a permanent floor in workplaces where employers already provide some paid sick leave.

 

5
   Paid vacations

When we are talking about a collapsing middle class, we're talking about millions of Americans working longer hours for lower wages. We're talking about millions of Americans who are overworked, underpaid, and under enormous stress.

One hundred years ago workers in this country took to the streets demanding a 40-hour workweek. And here we are 100 years later, living in the most technologically advanced economy in human history, and we still don't have 40-hour workweek! In fact, 85% of working men and 66% of working women are working more than 40 hours a week. What we have are millions of people, working incredible hours -- some with two or three jobs -- just trying to care for themselves and their families. Americans now work, by far, the longest hours of any major country on earth -137 hours a year more hours than workers in Japan, 260 hours more than the British and 499 hours more than French workers.

That is why I am introducing legislation today to require employers to provide at least 10 days of paid vacation to workers in this country. This is already done in almost every country in the world, and it is one more way to demonstrate our commitment to Family Values.

 

6
   Two weeks off

What we are talking about is a proposal to allow workers to take two weeks of paid leave so that they can rest and recuperate, travel the country, visit loved ones or simply spend time at home, bonding with their families.

This is not something that would just benefit workers and their families but also their employers and even society as a whole. Studies show that 9 in 10 Americans report that their happiest memories come from vacations. And while companies like Virgin Group and Netflix have adopted generous paid vacation policies, aimed at boosting productivity and worker loyalty, nearly 1 in 4 workers gets no paid vacation time. Research shows that vacations reduce stress, strengthen family relationships, increase productivity and even prevent illness.

 

7
   A standard benefiting a great nation

There is no reason we should not do this. There is no reason that American workers should be denied a benefit that workers in every other advanced economy already enjoy. Again, when you compare the United States to other rich countries in Europe, Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, you discover that we are the only one in the group that doesn't require employers to provide at least 10 days of paid vacation time. We are every bit as prosperous as they are, and the reason we are so prosperous is because the men and women of this country work so hard.

I am not asking for the most generous vacation policy in the world -- nothing like what they get in France, Austria or Belgium -- but I am going to push for a standard befitting a great nation that takes seriously its commitment to Family Values.

-- Chris Weigant

 

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Cross-posted at: Democratic Underground
Cross-posted at: The Huffington Post

 

90 Comments on “Friday Talking Points [350] -- Bernie Sanders Shows Democrats What "Family Values" Should Mean”

  1. [1] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    I'm curious ... why is a progressive or Progressive like yourself so dead set against progress when it comes to issues such as the TPP.

    Or, why are Democrats so afraid of competing with the rest of the world and so quick to give up any sort of global leadership role with respect to trade and so dismissive or ignorant of how the impacts of the TPP go way beyond the economics of the issue?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... or maybe I just don't understand what impressive means anymore. Sigh.

  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    Or, why are Democrats so afraid of competing with the rest of the world and so quick to give up any sort of global leadership role with respect to trade and so dismissive or ignorant of how the impacts of the TPP go way beyond the economics of the issue?

    Two words...

    NAF TA :D

    NAFTA gave all sorts of promise of "competing with the rest of the world" and "the greatest thing since frozen pizza"...

    Is this country better off because of NAFTA???

    I don't think so, but I am open to being proven wrong..

    Michale

  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Whether it is trade or immigration or whatever..

    In America, there is no sin in putting Americans first...

    Michale

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    But it is a clear defeat for Obama, who lobbied hard to very little effect.

    "AND THE QUARTERBACK IS TOAST!!!"
    -Theo, DIE HARD

    :D

    The American people spoke firmly...

    "NO, Mr President!! You DON'T get your legacy at the expense of every day Americans!!!"

    Michale

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Real family values, instead of attacks on the family

    So, attacks on christian families is Sanders idea of "family values"??

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, **or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;** or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
    -1st Amendment Of The United States Constitution

    I'm just sayin'.....

    Michale

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Real family values, instead of attacks on the family

    Basically, what Sanders is saying is that attacks on families that don't share Sanders ideology are perfectly acceptable and, for the Democrat Party, actually encouraged...

    I just can't see any "values" in that attitude...

    :^/

    Michale

  8. [8] 
    Michale wrote:

    Paid vacations..

    Paid sick-leave....

    Paid this... Paid that....

    OK, Bernie..

    YOU foot the bill and we can give all the employees all the freebies that YOU are willing to pay for...

    Does Bernie think that business owners can just print money??? Only the Obama Administration can do that!!

    Michale

  9. [9] 
    Mopshell wrote:

    Small correction: last Iowa Straw Poll was in 2011, not 2012.

  10. [10] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    In America, there is no sin in putting Americans first...

    Okay, now THAT is just hilarious.

    And, if you have to ask why, then the decline of America has progressed much further than I could have ever imagined in my wildest nightmares. Well, that's a bit of hyperbole but, you get the point. Right??

  11. [11] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The problem with America, Michale is that there are so few political leaders with a vision for progressing successfully through the future, much less the requisite courage to carry that vision out.

    Additionally, there are too many Americans who are too willing to settle for that less than mediocre state of affairs.

  12. [12] 
    Michale wrote:

    And, if you have to ask why, then the decline of America has progressed much further than I could have ever imagined in my wildest nightmares. Well, that's a bit of hyperbole but, you get the point. Right??

    Not sure I do...

    Are you saying that American leaders should screw over Americans so that citizens in Mexico can have a better life??

    Why???

    Michale

  13. [13] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    "the media is largely ignoring this story, of course."

    . . . and allowing the Greedy Old Predators' to slide by with their dishonest and illogical anti-family propaganda in response. As they deploy the "job killer" and the "poor, poor business owner" talking points, the media never asks them why exceptional American businesses can't make it work, but Japanese and German businesses can.

  14. [14] 
    Michale wrote:

    Put another way...

    When you fly, what do the Flight Attendants tell you to do if oxygen mask deploy???

    Put YOUR mask on first and THEN help others put their masks on...

    Sound advice...

    Michale

  15. [15] 
    Michale wrote:

    the media never asks them why exceptional American businesses can't make it work, but Japanese and German businesses can.

    Oh that's easy....

    Japanese and German governments actually work WITH business owners and not against them..

    I have lived in both places and the difference is astonishing...

    Michale

  16. [16] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    JEB's excellent Polish adventure makes me think he was trying to set up a Jon Stewart bit.

    http://www.cnn.com/2015/06/11/politics/jeb-bush-polish-waitergate-scandal/index.html

  17. [17] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    LizM,

    "if you have to ask why, then the decline of America has progressed much further than I could have ever imagined"

    Well, now that you got what you asked for, I hope you'll reconsider that as an indicator of America's decline.

    BTW - I'd like to hear when you think America was at it's zenith. We started with a constitution that allowed slavery and gave women no rights. We exterminated the native people. We are seemingly always at war, but even when we aren't, we're threatening somebody with one.

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    We are seemingly always at war, but even when we aren't, we're threatening somebody with one.

    PEACE.... Thru Superior Firepower

    Or, if you prefer the CW version...

    "Sometimes ya gotta fight when yer a man"
    -Kenny Rogers, COWARD OF THE COUNTY

    Michale

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Obama has 3 pitches this month...

    Pitch #1... TPP, TAA, TiSA..

    WAY OUT in front of it..

    Strike 1..

    Pitch #2..... SCOTUS ruling on TrainWreckCare...

    SWING AND A MISS

    Strike 2..

    Pitch #3... Iran Nuclear Bargain...

    TOTALLY fell for the sucker pitch..

    Strike 3!!

    Obama is OUTTA DER!!!

    Gonna be an interesting month..... :D

    Michale

  20. [20] 
    Michale wrote:

    House Democrats To Obama, "PPFFFFFFFFFFFTTTTTTTT"
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/14/opinion/sunday/maureen-dowd-flickering-greatness.html

    Not a bucket-list entry, but welcome nonetheless :D

    Michale

  21. [21] 
    akadjian wrote:

    I'm curious ... why is a progressive or Progressive like yourself so dead set against progress when it comes to issues such as the TPP.

    I can't speak for Chris, Liz, but here's one of the reasons I'm against it.

    History. NAFTA was terrible for America. A good part of our manufacturing base picked up and moved to Mexico or Canada. We received little benefit back in return. All the "trade" basically was pretty much one way. Out. The TPP will be the same but worse.

    Some pretty brilliant economists have written about the lousy trade agenda of the Clinton years (Paul Krugman's book was my favorite).

    Here's a good question though. You say it's "progress". I would ask what this means. Everything I've seen so far sounds like marketing and the "magic" of markets.

    Right now Washington is so bought and sold by special interest groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that I would almost prefer a complete moratorium on legislation rather than see them pass anything.

    Just. Stop.

    Ok, you have to pass the budget. Pass the same one as last year. Stop with everything else unless it's really designed to help people.

    Every "fix" that they recommend is usually some giveaway to an industry donor. (In truth, there's some good done, but the measure of harm is immeasurably worse.)

    Best,
    -David

    p.s. Love the Bernie Sanders piece, CW. Here's another Bernie quote to add. When asked about the media's performance so far in this campaign:

    What does Bernie Sanders think of the media’s performance so far this campaign? Barely adequate. The huge speaking fees Bill and Hillary Clinton have accepted? Wrong question, he says; you should be asking why anyone pays them.

  22. [22] 
    Michale wrote:

    What does Bernie Sanders think of the media’s performance so far this campaign? Barely adequate. The huge speaking fees Bill and Hillary Clinton have accepted? Wrong question, he says; you should be asking why anyone pays them.

    That's part and parcel to the first question...

    What is Bill and Hill having to do to earn those fees??

    A question I hope Weigantians ask *AFTER* Hillary is the DEM POTUS candidate...

    Michale

  23. [23] 
    Michale wrote:

    You can bet that if Walker or Rubio had a million dollars an hour speaking fees from so many questionable sources, you can bet that Democrats would be demanding answers...

    Am I wrong??

    I don't think I am...

    Michale

  24. [24] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Walker and Rubio have plenty of million dollar backers.

    Corporate media never asks them about it.

    http://prospect.org/article/scott-walkers-shady-deals-win-him-campaign-cash-billionaires

    -David

  25. [25] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    JFC,

    I'm a big fan of America or, should I say, the promise of America, in case you haven't noticed. Perhaps, I'm the biggest fan ... around here, anyway.

  26. [26] 
    John From Censornati wrote:

    LizM,

    Yes, I've noticed. On the other hand, you talked about it declining. I'm curious about when you think it was better.

  27. [27] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think I may be in denial about the current and, possible long-term, decline of America. But, on the other hand, I think it is only a matter of inevitability that the power America is able to exert around the globe - hard and soft power - will decline with the rise of other powers, especially China and the Asia Pacific region.

    The important thing for America will be to effectively manage the decline and to maintain its global leadership role.

    When was it better than now? Well, everything is relative and that will surely be answered in different ways depending on ones particular perspective.

  28. [28] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think the years during the latter part of WWII and for some time thereafter might be called one of the better periods for the US ...

  29. [29] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    ... and, I also think that the years following the Great Depression might have been some of the better years for America ...

    But, alas, I am no historian, not by a very, very long shot ... though, if I had the chance to do it all over again I think I would have loved to be immersed in history ...

  30. [30] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    History. NAFTA was terrible for America. A good part of our manufacturing base picked up and moved to Mexico or Canada.

    I don't buy that. Like it or not, no country - not even America - can stop the forces of globalization and information technology. If you're looking to place blame on the economic woes of America, then you need look no further than at economic policy and ideology and at a lack of visionary leadership, not on a North American trade deal that had far more significant and positive foreign policy consequences for the US than impacts on its economy.

    The US has a clear choice - it can skuttle the TPP and other regional trade agreements and watch the rise of new global powers without playing a vital role in setting the rules of the road or it can shape the way the world operates - economically and otherwise - in a way that reflects American ideas and ideals.

    America will not stop the opening of trade around the world and that would not even be in its own national interest.

    The American economy is already pretty open. The impacts of trade agreements like the TPP (and, NAFTA before it) will substantially and disproportionately open emerging markets - like that of Vietnam, for example - with far less impact on the North American economy. Besides, we can't forget all of the other factors that affect the American economy - negatively and positively - and are far more impactful that moving trade deals forward.

    The foreign policy consequences of trade deals like NAFTA and the proposed TPP are overwhelmingly positive for the United States. The negative economic impacts of a trade deal like the TPP on the US are relatively minor and can be mitigated by visionary leaders. Even Paul Krugman has said as much about the NAFTA.

  31. [31] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Walker and Rubio have plenty of million dollar backers.

    We're not talking "backers" or "donors"..

    We're talking being paid a million dollars an hour to give a speech..

    Corporate media never asks them about it.

    We're not talking media, we're talking Party activists...

    Michale

  32. [32] 
    Michale wrote:

    We're not talking "backers" or "donors"..

    We're talking being paid a million dollars an hour to give a speech..

    We're ALSO talking, in addition to million dollar p/hour speeches, hundreds of millions MORE dollars being paid into a Clinton slush fund that Hillary has complete control over...

    There is NOTHING comparable on the GOP side of the issue...

    If you don't want a POTUS who is so utterly and completely and blatantly bought and paid for by corporate interests, then you simply cannot vote for Hillary...

    Michale

  33. [33] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    I could easily make the case that the "decline" in America has come because of our leadership's policies of being the world's Welfare Agency..

    The immigration issue is a perfect example..

    Despite cherry-picked stats, it is undeniable that the US has a jobs problem.. Millions of able workers and very few jobs....

    Despite this, our leaders want to bring in tens of millions MORE workers and dump them into the jobs market..

    On what planet would that NOT be a totally boneheaded and moronic play??

    Like I said, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with our leaders looking out for Americans first and then looking out for the rest of world after..

    It's what we Americans PAY them to do...

    Michale

  34. [34] 
    Michale wrote:

    Don't get me wrong..

    America's altruism throughout the world is well-known and undeniable..

    I don't have a problem with that...

    A trade pact with South Korea increased the US GDP by a billion dollars...

    It increased SK's GPD by TWELVE billion dollars...

    Is there anything wrong with wanting a level playing field?? Where the US is not giving giving giving and other countries are taking taking taking??

    The Climate Change pact with China is another perfect example..

    The US must cut emissions 25% by 2030...

    At that time, China will "discuss" cutting their emissions..

    And THAT is a good deal???

    It's time the US stops bending over and taking it up the shorts so that other countries can enjoy a windfall...

    Michale

  35. [35] 
    Michale wrote:

    And what chaps my ass about the whole thing is that it's NOT going to be our leaders who will be paying the price..

    It's going to be the Middle Class, every day Americans who are going to have to foot the bill...

    It's like if I announce a big Money Giveaway for All Weigantians... And CW foots the bill...

    CW is over there doing his best Ralph Macchio impression from MY COUSIN VINNY...

    WHOOAAA!!!!! WAIT A MINUTE!!!!!

    :D

    Michale

  36. [36] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    You think I'm talking about altruism? You really don't get it.

  37. [37] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's time the US stops bending over and taking it up the shorts so that other countries can enjoy a windfall...

    Unbelievable. Or not.

  38. [38] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It is precisely that kind of thinking, Michale, that will be directly responsible for the decline of America.

    As long as Americans and their leaders fail to understand and appreciate what is in their national interest, America will not be able to successfully manage its inevitable "decline" in a world where it will be left behind.

    I don't want to live in that world.

  39. [39] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    It's so easy to blame NAFTA for all of America's economic woes but, it is the US manufacturing industry that is among the TPP's greatest supporters.

    Why is that?

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    You think I'm talking about altruism? You really don't get it.

    Apparently, I am not..

    What exactly are you referring to??

    It's so easy to blame NAFTA for all of America's economic woes but, it is the US manufacturing industry that is among the TPP's greatest supporters.

    Why is that?

    Are you kidding??

    Of COURSE they are all for it.. They can move their manufacturing operations to Vietnam and pay pennies for labor..

    Does the name APPLE mean anything to you?? :D

    Why do you think Labor is so against TPP/TPA/TiSA??

    Michale

  41. [41] 
    Michale wrote:

    As long as Americans and their leaders fail to understand and appreciate what is in their national interest, America will not be able to successfully manage its inevitable "decline" in a world where it will be left behind.

    Shouldering ALL the responsibility and reaping LITTLE to NO benefit is not really what I would call in our best "national interest"...

    The deal with China is a PERFECT example of that..

    Michale

  42. [42] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Why do you think Labor is so against TPP/TPA/TiSA??

    Because they are stuck in the past with no vision for the future.

  43. [43] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Of COURSE they are all for it.. They can move their manufacturing operations to Vietnam and pay pennies for labor..

    Do you think this trend in manufacturing will be reversed if the Obama administration is prevented from pursuing the TPP?

    The train has left the station, Michale - you're either on it or you're left behind.

  44. [44] 
    akadjian wrote:

    It is the US manufacturing industry that is among the TPP's greatest supporters. Why is that?

    The "industry" supported NAFTA too.

    This doesn't mean it was good for people. Industry supports lots of things that are good for "industry" and not for people.

    -David

  45. [45] 
    akadjian wrote:

    If we really wanted to lead, Liz, I believe we should be fighting for better wages and working conditions.

    Instead of a race to the bottom, I believe we should be working to put economic pressure on countries to raise their conditions.

    We should be leveling the playing field upwards, not downwards. If I thought there was anything in the TPP that did this, I would support it. For example, there's nothing in it that deals with currency manipulation.

    My take, anyhoo.

    -David

  46. [46] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    The US manufacturing industry is currently in a surplus situation in terms of the balance between billions of dollars in exports versus imports.

    My point is that whatever is happening in the manufacturing industry in the US has precious little to do with any free trade deal.

    The TPP is most decidedly good for people. That is assuming, of course, that people wish to live in a more prosperous and peaceful world that has a forward-looking progressive approach to future existence.

  47. [47] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    The TPP shouldn't be expected to deal with all of the valid issues you raise. There are a host of other things that could and should be done through other means.

    For example, you cite currency manipulation. This is and will be an ongoing problem that needs constant attention by national governments and persistent negotiation to work through the problems. The TPP and other regional trade agreements shouldn't be expected to solve all of these issues.

    Global trade is opening up. There is no stopping that, whether or not the US signs off on the TPP. The real question is what role do you want the US to play in this arena ...

  48. [48] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I can't speak for Chris, Liz, but ...

    Why not? Just between you and me and the four walls, he doesn't seem willing to take a stand on this, one way or the other. For him, it seems to be more about process than substance or the relative merits of the arguments for or against.

    Sigh.

  49. [49] 
    akadjian wrote:

    The real question is what role do you want the US to play in this arena.

    I want the U.S. to lead for people, not multinational corporations.

    If we were taking a role in making people's lives better instead of helping a few multinational corporations that want lower regulations and lower wages, I'd be all for it.

    Progressive leadership should advocate for people, not "industries".

    If the TPP is so good for people, why can't people see it?

    -David

  50. [50] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I want the U.S. to lead for people, not multinational corporations.

    Well, people don't trade, David, multi-national corporations do. Heh. Sorry - couldn't resist, not that strong.

    By the way, where would people be without industry? It is possible to be for these trade agreements and continue to work towards what works for people.

    If the TPP is so good for people, why can't people see it?

    Do you want me to answer that? :)

  51. [51] 
    Paula wrote:

    Elizabeth uses a lot of nice-sounding words and phrases to describe the results she anticipates from the TPP. But we've been down that alley many times and some of us have learned a thing or two. One is that the interests of large corporations, just as those of Wall Street, now have no relationship, or have an inverse relationship, to the interests of working people -anywhere - not just in the U.S. The TPP is not a "Free Trade" Agreement, it is a corporate power agreement.

    Doctors Without Borders is against it -- go to their website and read why: http://www.doctorswithoutborders.org

    Those folks are an excellent example of people who deal with conditions on the ground and can show exactly how the sorts of planks in TPP hurt people. They don't deal in abstractions about "prosperity" and "forward progress" and similar tropes -- they deal with people's lives.

    In a less dramatic form that's precisely what opponents to TPP do -- they look at what's been happening to people's lives all over the world and see how most people are now essentially held hostage to the interests of big banks, large corps and bought and sold "leaders". And they've had enough.

    Even Obama is having trouble selling TPP -- his arguments have been exceedingly vague, muted, and abstract, like Elizabeth's. Guess what? We don't buy it anymore. We don't think bankers on Wall Street are the "best and brightest" doing great work for America, we think they're gamblers who've been given keys to the vault, and criminals who keep paying their way out of jail. We don't believe large American or International corporations give a damn about anything except their bottom lines -- which are routinely massged,, finagled and misrepresented. We don't think America values "work" -- everything about it is set up to benefit passive income. Elizabeth talks about "American Values" -- which one's? The one's we are told we hold or the one's we actually live by? TPP fans yap about the former; TPP opponents know the reality is the latter.

    I like David's idea: just stop. Better to do nothing than to actively make things worse.

  52. [52] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    I want the U.S. to lead for people, not multinational corporations.

    How do you expect the US to effectively lead from outside of the TPP?

    That wouldn't be leading from behind, a concept which I endorse in the right circumstances but, rather leading nowhere, fast and without any followers.

  53. [53] 
    Michale wrote:

    I can't speak for Chris, Liz, but ...

    Why not? Just between you and me and the four walls, he doesn't seem willing to take a stand on this, one way or the other. For him, it seems to be more about process than substance or the relative merits of the arguments for or against.

    I also cannot speak for CW..

    But I think he mentioned before that it is likely fruitless to comment on TPP, TPA, TiSA etc etc because we really don't know what's in it..

    And secrecy and subterfuge breeds suspicion...

    I have to concur with David, much as it hurts. :D J/K

    If it's that good, then our representatives should be allowed to read the text in full w/o having to jump thru hoops and sign blood oaths...

    Michale

  54. [54] 
    Paula wrote:

    Comment eaten again -- may pop up at some point, out of order.

    Trying again, more briefly: TPP isn't a Trade Agreement. It's a corporate power agreement. Everything about that is so damningly wrong. There was a time in America when we could believe large American and multi-national corps were forces for good -- anyone who believes that now is uninformed or naive or being paid off.

    Strip everything out of it re: Big Pharma patent protections and corporate tribunals and come back to the public with what's left. Then remove all pretences towards protecting worker's rights in other countries since that won't happen in any serious way. Then show us what's left. Let's see what's in there re: environmental protections and how they will be enforced. If enforceable, good. If only pretending to enforce, remove, and let's see what's left.

    In other words: get real. No fancy rhetoric, no abstractions, no misty promises.

  55. [55] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I also cannot speak for CW..

    Someone has to ... hmmm ...no, bad idea. :)

  56. [56] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Let me ask you this, Liz. How exactly is the TPP going to create "a more prosperous and peaceful world"?

    I don't see how it's going to do this. Especially looking at what NAFTA did.

    If we don't have a believable answer to this question, I don't think we should do it. I don't see a believable answer to this question. I see a lot of rhetoric and hand-waving.

    -David

  57. [57] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Here, btw, is a great article by Joseph Stiglitz that talks about how trade agreements aren't what we think they are.

    http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/15/on-the-wrong-side-of-globalization/

    Basically, he argues that we really don't have "tariff" barriers to trade anymore. These were largely eliminated by past agreements and this has been a good thing.

    What these new trade agreements focus on and call barriers are what the rest of us call protections. Protections like the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act.

    The agreement will allow companies to challenge local laws and all they have to do is claim they will impact "profit". This will lead to a race to the bottom where any regulations that help people but somehow reduce profit can be challenged.

    Stiglitz also talks about how corporations are using these types of agreements to reduce wages and benefits. It is hard to ignore that this is exactly what happened with NAFTA.

    -David

  58. [58] 
    Paula wrote:

    David 56: yep!

  59. [59] 
    Michale wrote:

    David,

    Re; 56.....

    Again, I have to concur.... {{OUCH}} :D

    Not so much about the protections you point out but the simple fact that it gives another country equal say in keeping or discarding those protections in the US...

    The agreement will allow companies to challenge local laws and all they have to do is claim they will impact "profit". This will lead to a race to the bottom where any regulations that help people but somehow reduce profit can be challenged.

    I am not so much worried about that..

    I am not worried about local companies changing local laws, but rather FOREIGN GOVERNMENTS changing US laws...

    I don't mind if a local company wants a local law changed.. The adage of don't shit where one eats usually prevents abuses in that regard..

    What I *DO* care about is some scumbag leader in The Democratic Republic Of BumFuq in cahoots with other scumbag leaders, being able to change US laws to fit THEIR needs and to hell with Americans...

    You said it yourself in a previous commentary...

    National Sovereignty....

    I don't expect Vietnam to obey US laws in Vietnam and I'll be damned if I am going to obey Vietnamese laws in St Augustine FLORIDA, USA

    Michale

  60. [60] 
    Michale wrote:

    Hillary Clinton's Platform

    Equal Pay For Equal Work..

    Unless you work for Hillary, then you work unpaid...

    Hypocrite...

    Michale

  61. [61] 
    Michale wrote:

    CW,

    His corruption certainly earns him this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award, but his owning up to his crimes and his unqualified apology (at the very least) have to be applauded. We certainly hope future dirty politicians will learn from Fox, when caught with their hands in the cookie jar.

    I have a much better suggestion for the MDDOTW award..

    The Democrat Operatives who fed the story to the New York Times about Marco Rubio and his 4 traffic tickets in 17 years...

    And the condemnation from those same Dem operatives over Rubio's "splurging on a luxury speedboat" that was actually a family fishing vessel small enough that it could fit in Hillary Clinton's smaller pool in one of her many houses...

    I guess Democrats are absolutely terrified of Marco Rubio as the GOP POTUS Candidate.... :D

    Michale

  62. [62] 
    Michale wrote:
  63. [63] 
    Paula wrote:
  64. [64] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Paula, I'm sure that's a great link but, how do you explain the issue?

  65. [65] 
    Paula wrote:

    On the Majority Report (majority.fm) Sam Sedar has an interview with David Dayen from 6/12 in which Dayen traces the history of Trade Deals and Fast Track Authority and how, over time, these deals became vehicles wherein corporations and their support groups could get deals cut for them that they could never have gotten through Congress. This is the crux of the problem. Kuttner discusses too. Calling TPP a Trade Deal is to hide the noxious crap buried in it -- but -- Yay Internet!-- those things can't stay hidden anymore.

    In that way TPP is much like ALEC -- a hideously damaging organization that got away with stuff under the radar for years. Still does to an extent but it's getting harder and harder because we know about it now and can spot the legislation they place with Republicans around the country.

  66. [66] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula,

    Calling TPP a Trade Deal is to hide the noxious crap buried in it -- but -- Yay Internet!-- those things can't stay hidden anymore.

    I'm curious ... what "noxious crap" do you believe to be buried in the still developing TPP deal?

    Do you think the Obama administration is out to screw, excuse my language, the American worker?

    Actually, calling the TPP a "trade deal" does indeed obscure the reality that - for the US, at least - the TPP is really more of a foreign policy issue and an effort to ensure that China is not large and in charge of writing the rules of trade in the Asia Pacific region.

    If you don't like the deal negotiated by Obama and feel that Congress should ultimately reject the final deal, then ... how should I break this to you gently ... wait until you get a load of what the Chinese rules will mean for American workers.

  67. [67] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    Let me ask you this, Liz. How exactly is the TPP going to create "a more prosperous and peaceful world"?

    Let's take a look at NAFTA, first. Trade between the US and Mexico has increased dramatically since NAFTA and I've read that the US Chamber of Commerce has said that 6 million American jobs depend on this expanded trade with Mexico.

    Before NAFTA, relations between the US and Mexico were marked by a lot of anti-Americanism and now there is a very healthy and cooperative relationship taking shape. NAFTA has been a great catalyst for political and economic reforms in Mexico that have made this improved relationship possible.

    Similarly, Vietnam will be one of the signatories to the TPP that will benefit the most in terms of an improved economy and higher standards of living for its people. And, like in Mexico, political and economic reforms will be helped along by signing on to a trade deal like the TPP which will help move Vietnam toward a more open society and sustainable economy. That, by the way, is very good for America, especially in view of its big rebalance toward the Asia Pacific region as an effort to counter the growing influence and aggressive nature of China in that part of the world.

    One could even say that America owes Vietnam all of the economic and political benefits that come to it as a result of the TPP, for obvious reasons dating back to the US involvement in that country 40 years ago!

    Trade deals like the TPP represent a great opportunity for America to demonstrate its leadership in reinforcing the global order and in helping to ensure that cooperation and competition prevail over coersion and conflict, especially in the East and South China Seas.

  68. [68] 
    Paula wrote:

    E: (65):

    My understanding is that Corporate Lobbyists, in the hundreds, have had direct input into aspects of the deal to date. Leaks indicate Big Pharma has won patent protections that ensure high prices for years to come (opposed by Doctors Without Borders among other groups), and there are suggestions that Banks will be able to weaken Dodd Frank. There is also the matter of the extra-judicial Tribunals which will be stocked with corporate-owned lawyers, and will enjoy powers and protections not shared by environmental or labor groups. The problem then becomes Fast Track, wherein Congress must give an up or down vote and will then be arm-wrestled into approving because some aspects of the treaty might be good. Thus it becomes a vehicle to force corporate favors down our throats in order to supposedly ensure that China doesn't write the rules on trade.

    If you fear China being able to write the rules on trade you should support scrapping this thing and starting a clean treaty that deals with trade issues and nothing else.

    If you think the world will end if this deal goes down well, I hope we'll find out. I'm willing to take the risk. What I am utterly opposed to is anything that gives any American or multi-national corporation (including Banks) ANY additional power of any kind. They have shown they value profit, especially that which goes into the pockets of their top people, over anything else, period. They will sacrifice the environment. They will sacrifice lives. They are conscienceless agents and the fact that they have been given favored status in the process of developing this treaty is, frankly, stunning. It shows a complete lack of awareness on the part of the administration -- which is only echoed by the President's exceedingly weak argument that we should support it out of trust for him.

    I support the Pres on most things but not on this one. Frankly, it doesn't matter what his intentions are, it matters what corporations will do. They have shown repeatedly that they will find any possible crack through which they can disempower people in order to enrich and/or empower themselves. What we've seen over and over is that they've got the money and the lawyers and you can bet that it will be corporate rules that will be enforced rigorously while environmental, safety and collectiive-bargaining efforts will be weakened, ignored and flouted. Just like, in American, banks get reimbursed 100 cents on the dollar but republican judges rule that municipalities can stiff pension holders. Funny which contracts are sacred and which aren't.

  69. [69] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula,

    First off, I think opponents of the TPP agreement are basing their opposition on suppositions and assumptions and on what they perceive as mostly (and massive) negative consequences of NAFTA for the US economy and American workers.

    I find this opposition to be wildly misguided and largely unfounded, not to mention wholly dismissive of how this agreement may benefit the US in terms that go way beyond economic and, indeed, far outweigh the negatives that will inevitably be present in any trade deal.

    It is my understanding that the TPP will strengthen labour and environmental protections far beyond what NAFTA provided, for example. And, the concerns that Senator Warren has about giant corporations getting favourable treatment in resolving disputes is belied by studies showing that these elite economic entities have won their arbitration cases only 29% of the time under a similar dispute resolution mechanism used by the WTO since 1996.

    My greatest criticism against all of the popular opposition to the TPP in the US is the extreme short-sightedness of the opponents and their apparent lack of a complete understanding of what the TPP means for the US, not only in terms of the relatively small economic impacts - positive and negative - for America but, far more importantly, in terms of promoting cooperation and competition and mitigating coercion and conflict in an area of the globe that finds itself increasingly in need of both.

  70. [70] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula,

    If you fear China being able to write the rules on trade you should support scrapping this thing and starting a clean treaty that deals with trade issues and nothing else.

    You lost me on that one.

    China isn't part of the TPP (yes, anyway) but it is certainly already writing the rules with other regional trade deals it is involved in.

    And, you can bet a boat load of quatloos that while the other countries in the Asia Pacific region would much rather follow the US on these issues they will sign on to deals with China in the absence of US leadership.

  71. [71] 
    Michale wrote:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9zZxBNRTkd4

    That, pretty much, says it all...

    Michale

  72. [72] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    So, Michale, what does it say?

    You know, there ought to be some sort of minimum threshold word count here whenever a link is posted in a comment.

    :-)

  73. [73] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Okay, I clicked on that link, against ALL better judgement. :)

    I'm glad you posted it - it was awesome!

    And, here's another shocker for you ... the guy in that video would enthusiastically support the TPP.

  74. [74] 
    akadjian wrote:

    Liz-

    "6 million jobs depend" ... This is sadly how spin works.

    People hear "depend" and they think "create". What does "depend" even mean? What I can tell you it doesn't mean is create.

    Estimates show 1 million American jobs were LOST as a result of NAFTA to Mexico and Canada.

    The other problem, as Robert Reich points out, is that all of the benefits of these "free trade" policies have gone to people at the top. Not average Joes.

    http://www.alternet.org/robert-reich-real-reason-corporate-friendly-tpp-nearly-dead

    Sorry, Liz. I don't buy it. If the TPP is "progress," I guess I'm a conservative because it's not the "progress" I want.

    -David

  75. [75] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    I think you are definitely a conservative, David but, not completely beyond hope. :)

  76. [76] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    David,

    Estimates show 1 million American jobs were LOST as a result of NAFTA to Mexico and Canada.

    Heh. That will be news to Canadians!

    You know what a common problem is with most opponents of the TPP ... their worldview, if they have one, is extremely limited.

  77. [77] 
    Michale wrote:

    Sorry, Liz. I don't buy it. If the TPP is "progress," I guess I'm a conservative because it's not the "progress" I want.

    "Luke, if you only knew the power of the Dark Side."

    :D

    Michale

  78. [78] 
    Michale wrote:

    http://www.today.com/news/rachel-dolezal-speaks-today-show-matt-lauer-after-naacp-resignation-t26371

    Isn't this a great country!!???

    If you were born a man, but want to be a woman to rake in big bucks, you can!!!

    If you were white, but want to be black, you can even do that too!!!!

    I am tired of being human..

    From know on, ya'all have to treat me like a Klingon!!! :D

    K'plau!!!

    :D

    Michale

  79. [79] 
    Paula wrote:

    E:

    This report disputes the benefits to Mexico of NAFTA: http://www.cepr.net/press-center/press-releases/twenty-years-after-nafta-mexico-has-experienced-lagging-growth-persistent-poverty-and-increased-unemployment

    Meanwhile, as David mentions, numbers of jobs LOST in America far outstrip the numbers gained AND the jobs gained pay less than those lost.

    belied by studies showing that these elite economic entities have won their arbitration cases only 29% of the time under a similar dispute resolution mechanism used by the WTO since 1996.

    So we're supposed to think, ok, no problem, the bad guys have only won 29% of the time so far. That's supposed to be comforting...how? Are we to assume the will continue to only win 29% of the time? Do you hold a crystal ball and can accurately predict what will happen going forward, when the decks are stacked more fully FOR the elite economic entities?

    Recent history has shown when you give an inch they take a mile. If you can't grasp that then I can only accuse you, Elizabeth, of being short-sighted.

    You say opponents are dismissive (68) of the economic benefits TPP will engender. I say YOU are dismissive of the fact that such economic benefits have, to date, gone almost entirely to the 1% and the rest of America has been slowly bled and is still bleeding. You are projecting forward, apparently swallowing the rosy scenarios TPP fans insist will happen. We are people actually living with the failure of previous rosy scenarios.

    (BTW, mentioning the U.S. Chamber of Commerce (66), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Koch Bros wing of the republican party, is not persuasive to progressives. You might as well quote FOX News.)

    You mention the "strengthened environmental and labor protections" but don't mention that, thus far, in other treaties, those protections have largely been ignored. We have limits to what we can do to enforce them.

    You also dismiss the patent protections provided to Big Pharma; the risks to Dodd Frank, etc.

    You are big on impressive sounding words and noble ideas like U.S. leadership, all of which ring hollow to me. U.S.-- in the forefront of letting multi-national corps rule the world!

  80. [80] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula,

    I think what is poorly understood by a lot of people is that these "trade deals" like the TPP have relatively negligible impacts on the US economy - whether they be positive or negative and, there will always be both.

    What is most important here for the US and for Americans is what the TPP agreement will mean for the rest of the Asia Pacific region - countries like Vietnam and Japan, for example - and how the significant impacts in those countries will move their economies forward and be a catalyst for real liberalization and political reform.

    What's the benefit to America if that happens? I would argue that the benefits are substantial and long-term and mean more steps toward a more cooperative and rules-based competitive Asia Pacific region and a significant move away from the potential for some very serious conflict.

    Now, I understand that it can be hard for many Americans to see this big picture and to concentrate only on what the TPP will do for the American economy and its workers.

    But, Americans must face the reality of their position in the world and accept the responsibility they have in terms of providing the kind of global leadership that will be necessary to protect their unique standing and to manage America's inevitable decline in the midst of the rise of other powerful nations like China.

  81. [81] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Here's a link on the TPP and what makes it such an important agreement for the US:

    http://thediplomat.com/2015/06/the-next-us-president-asias-impact-on-americas-future/

    I'd love to get everyone's take on this very interesting piece ...

  82. [82] 
    Paula wrote:

    Elizabeth:

    You are doing a masterly job of showing why TPP is -- hopefully -- going to go down. You giveth and you taketh away in the same post. The results will be both negligible AND profound! The improvements to the economies in the Asia-Pacific region, assuming they come to pass, are worth the continued dismantling of the American middle class! Suck it up America! You owe it to the rest of the world! Sacrifice your citizenry because everyone else is afraid of China! And disregard, disregard, disregard the increased power bestowed upon multi-national corps -- we don't talk about that. That screws up the narrative! The narrative is replete with soaring rhetoric about American exceptionalism -- except Americans have bills to pay. They're in debt; salaries suck, benefits suck, my street has 4 foreclosed houses in a block of 8, but hey! All will be well because...long-term...unique standing...global leadership...shut up about the Tribunals!...shut up about NAFTA!...shut up about patent protections!...shut up about Dodd Frank!...you're messing up my vision of America accepting their inevitable decline gracefully!

  83. [83] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Paula,

    You are doing a masterly job of showing why TPP is -- hopefully -- going to go down. You giveth and you taketh away in the same post. The results will be both negligible AND profound!

    Sometimes, my analysis can require a very careful reading. Ahem.

    I believe I said that the impacts of the TPP on the American economy will be negligible, relative to the very substantial impact on many of the other signatories to the agreement. Of course, as with any trade agreement, there will be some negative economic impacts. But, that is not a valid reason to reject an important agreement like the TPP.

    The impacts for the US are profound indeed and multifaceted with extremely positive impacts that go well beyond the economic benefits of trade deal, all of which I have already enumerated.

    It sounds very much like you are exhibiting a case of matching up the problems and challenges facing the US economy and American workers with the wrong cause. NAFTA isn't the cause of the economic problems in the US and using the TPP as the latest bogyman to be feared won't solve them.

    All will be well because...long-term...unique standing...global leadership...shut up about the Tribunals!...shut up about NAFTA!...shut up about patent protections!...shut up about Dodd Frank!...you're messing up my vision of America accepting their inevitable decline gracefully!

    That tells me that I have done a very poor job of explaining where I'm coming from. So, I'm going to call it a day on this issue for the time being and watch closely what happens next in Congress and in the TPP negotiations and comment further when we know more.

    It's been a pleasure discussing this with you and look forward to continuing at a later date!

  84. [84] 
    Michale wrote:

    Liz,

    So, let me see if I understand what you are saying...

    With regards to the TPP et al......

    Republicans are right and Democrats are wrong???

    Republicans have the best interests of this country at heart and Democrats are hell bent on scroo'ing over the country??

    That sum things up??

    Michale

  85. [85] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    That's too simplistic, naturally ... :)

  86. [86] 
    Michale wrote:

    That's too simplistic, naturally ... :)

    You know me..

    I try to break things down so knuckle-dragging ground-pounders like me can understand it..

    I assume, since you didn't dispute the assessment, that it's accurate?? :D

    Michale

  87. [87] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Well, Michale, it's accurate enough with respect - ahem - to House Democrats who oppose the TPP and anything having to do with the TPP on spurious grounds.

  88. [88] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, Michale, it's accurate enough with respect - ahem - to House Democrats who oppose the TPP and anything having to do with the TPP on spurious grounds.

    "Well, aww right... "
    -Buddy Holly

    :D

    Michale

  89. [89] 
    Michale wrote:

    OK OK OK, I am *REALLY* confused here...

    I like to think of myself as an intelligent person who can reason logically about things and discern meaning...

    But the actions of the HOUSE have really REALLY confused me here...

    A few days ago, Democrats killed the TAA legislation. This legislation is tailor-made for Democrats. Helping workers who will be displaced if TPP (the actual trade deal) passes...

    According to reports, Democrats killed the TAA as a way to kill TPA, which is the Fast Track legislation, which is what Democrats REALLY oppose....

    With me so far???

    OK, so fast forward to today when the TPA is put to a House vote as a stand alone piece of shi..... legislation...

    And, with the help of Democrats, TPA PASSES!!!!

    W.T.F.!!????

    Can anyone explain this to me in words of one-syllable??

    Because I am completely cornfused.....

    Michale

  90. [90] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Michale,

    Can anyone explain this to me in words of one-syllable??

    Ah ... I'm pretty sure I can't do that. Heh.

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