The TPP shows the workings of our New America, if we care enough to look

Summary:  In this post an insider tells us the sad details about the Trans Pacific Partnership that provide insights into the workings of the New America being raised on the ruins of the Republic-that-once-was. Not just the treaty but the process that creates it. In this afternoon’s post, part 2, Alexis de Tocquiville helps us more clearly see what’s happening to America, with the perspective provided by experience and distance in time.  {Part 1 of 2 today.}

Bush & Obama: First Buddies:

Bush & Obama: First Buddies



  1. Partners at the creation
  2. The Trans-Pacific Partnership
  3. For More Information
  4. The fall of the old regime
  5. Conclusions
  6. For More Information


(1)  Partners at the creation of New America

“The problem is choice.”
— Neo in The Matrix Reloaded (2003).

One of the great themes of these posts has been the historic transformations of America under Bush Jr. and Obama. They brilliantly used both the groundwork laid during the previous generation and the unique opportunities created by 9/11 and the 2008 crash to alter the direction of our national evolution in ways profound although not yet clear. Their four terms, so consistent in most aspects of domestic and foreign policy (excluding social policies of little interest to our rulers) have raised the skeleton of a New America on the ruins of the old.

Revolutions and reformations done with popular support occur in the daylight. Those done without it occur in the shadows, cloaked in euphemisms amidst assurances that nothing important has changed. One way to show the real nature of these events is contrasting today’s news with a yardstick from the past. This post does so by looking at Obama’s work to gain approval for the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) with passages from the greatest work by Alexis de Tocqueville: The Ancien Regime and the French Revolution. He gives us a mirror in which we can more clearly see ourselves.

Stop the TPP fast track

(2)  The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Slowly news leaks out about the Orwellian-named Trans-pacific Partnership, othorganized by the Bush Administration and negotiated by Team Obama. The American people are not partners in this deal. It’s kept unusually secret to prevent opposition from mobilizing before the final rush after the deal is finalized — and the beneficiaries have greased the way for approval. Here we see, again, Obama’s contempt for Congress and the American people.

The latest evidence comes from Michael Wessel, a cleared liaison to two statutory advisory committees for the TPP. He was a commissioner on the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission. He published “I’ve Read Obama’s Secret Trade Deal. Elizabeth Warren Is Right to Be Concerned” at Politico.

The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design — anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.

I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal — and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.

So-called “cleared advisors” like me {created by statute} are prohibited from sharing publicly the criticisms we’ve lodged about specific proposals and approaches. The government has created a perfect Catch 22: The law prohibits us from talking about the specifics of what we’ve seen, allowing the president to criticize us for not being specific. Instead of simply admitting that he disagrees with me — and with many other cleared advisors — about the merits of the TPP, the president instead pretends that our specific, pointed criticisms don’t exist.

What I can tell you is that the administration is being unfair to those who are raising proper questions about the harms the TPP would do. To the administration, everyone who questions their approach is branded as a protectionist — or worse — dishonest.

… the ability of TPP critics like me to point out the deal’s many failings is limited by the government’s surprising and unprecedented refusal to make revisions to the language in the TPP fully available to cleared advisors.

… despite clearances, and a statutory duty to provide advice, advisors do not have access to all the materials that a reasonable person would need to do the job. … Advisors are almost flying blind on these questions and others. … the administration determines what we can and cannot review and, often, they provide carefully edited summaries rather than the actual underlying text, which is critical to really understanding the consequences of the agreement. …

How can we properly advise, without knowing the details? … Questions pervade virtually every chapter of the proposed agreement, including labor and the environment, investor-state, intellectual property and others.

His conclusions goes to the heart of the matter.

Congress should refuse to pass fast track trade negotiating authority until the partnership between the branches, and the trust of the American people is restored. That will require a lot of fence mending and disclosure of exactly what the TPP will do. That begins by sharing the final text of the TPP with those of us who won’t simply rubber-stamp it.

See part two this afternoon.

(3)  For More Information

For more about trade economics see Globalization and free trade: wonders of a past era, now enemies of America? Also, the TPP is not a trade agreement in any usual sense of the term. It’s a far reaching restructuring of the relationship of nations and multi-national corporations. For a sympathetic explanation see this at Vox. For a cautionary note about the lavish promises of economic gains (more jobs, higher GDP) promised by its promoters, see this by economist Jared Bernstein:

“Only in DC-style econ would a number like 0.4% by 2025, derived from a model of a 29-chapter trade agreement that the modelers never saw, be taken seriously (Remember, we can’t accurately forecast monthly jobs numbers—yet we can somehow tell you to count on a miniscule change to GDP 10 years hence).”

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Obama, his administration & policies, and these posts about New America…

  1. Obama repeals Magna Carta, asserting powers our forefathers denied to Kings.
  2. Let’s honor our generation’s greatest leader, one of the chief builders of a New America.
  3. We live in the America Bush Jr created, a break with our past.
  4. The 1% build a New America on the ruins of the old.
  5. A Tale of New America: a judge burns the Constitution.
  6. On Memorial Day let’s admit what we’ve done to America & begin its reform.




12 thoughts on “The TPP shows the workings of our New America, if we care enough to look”

  1. Think about this quote from the post by economist Jared Bernstein to Henry Farrell (assoc professor of political science at George Washington) — both good liberals of the leftist kind:

    “Only in DC-style econ would a number like 0.4% by 2025, derived from a model of a 29-chapter trade agreement that the modelers never saw, be taken seriously (Remember, we can’t accurately forecast monthly jobs numbers—yet we can somehow tell you to count on a miniscule change to GDP 10 years hence).” (source: Crooked Timber)

    That is quite obviously correct. Yet it applies equally well to the climate models whose forecasts Leftists regard as gospel (although their past forecasts have not proven accurate).

    Science is considered a tool by most American political advocates — like pronouncements by the Pope. Definitive, even sacrosanct, when useful. Ignored when not useful.

  2. In Europe a lot of citizens are suspicious of the Transatlantic Trade Investment Partnership (TTIP), often seeing America as a place where corporations have too much influence in comparison to the individual citizens. They suspect the TTIP is a way for American corporations to take over the European market, since their corporations have been more accustomed to law-less markets (relative to Europe) and destroy the high(er) level of consumer protection here in Europe.

    But when you read about American public opinion on TTIP and TPP, you see somewhat similar concerns. One could say from an American perspective that European laws are being too conservative and too risk averse which again would benefit European corporations adjusted to those conditions.

    What Europeans and Americans do seem to agree on, is that they don’t really trust their representatives. The lack of transparency doesn’t really help.

    1. Saif,

      I don’t know about Europe, but I believe most don’t see the TPP as a tilt towards Europe or its’ corporations. Few Americans have any idea about European laws, and less concern.

      Rather the TPP is a tilt from nation-states toward multi-national corporations, and towards the trans-national elites who own and run them.

  3. Thanks for posting this excellent material FM! Any additional material on computer industry and TPP will be even more greatly appreciated.

    1. Eric,

      I post cyber-security articles as I find them, but material that is reliable, of interest to laypeople, and understandable by them is rare.

      Coverage of TPP is intense, so there is little scope for me to add anything — other than to remind people how this fits in the big issues of our time. Which is IMO the most important thing. Although the articles with minutia about it are entertaining reading for the outer party, all that matters in these days is the ability of analysis to swing people into action.

      That is the standard of performance I set for the FM website. Otherwise I would just post photos and videos of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. Unfortunately I have not come remotely close to this bar, let alone gone over it.

    2. Coverage of the TPP is intense, but the Mainstream Media coverage is very light, hardly admitting that it exists, much less describing the details. I know why this is so but I still find it very disturbing.

      1. Pluto,

        That’s an important point. But no surprise. The corporate interests that the news corps serve love the TPP, so there are no elements in it to force public discussion. Private sector unions used to play that role, but the remnant are weak — on the margins of the US political structure, and mostly ignored by the news corps.

  4. The TPP appears to represent yet another chapter in the limitless growth of corporate power. The Citizens v. United decision was another. Eventually this process will reach a stage in which corporations supplant the powers of the nation-state. Corporations will eventually be able to literally buy and sell people, to repossess their organs or children or wives or husbands or fathers or sons in order to recoup unrecoverable debts, to nullify national laws at will (the TPP effectively allows this latter), and to employ private police forces — ignoring conventional laws passed by legislatures while enforcing private regulations encoded in “Terms of Service” and other contracts of adhesion. (This latter may seem outlandish, but it’s already happening, with private corporate rent-a-cops getting full police powers.)

    Much of this is occurring right now, as we speak. Cases like the Adam Swartz prosecutorial murder, in which a trivial violation of corporate Terms of Service violation was felonized and a private company threatened a major public institution (MIT) into destroying an internet activist, are now common. Soon corporations will no longer need the intervention of the government to destroy inconvenient annoyances like Swartz: they’ll execute them directly using their own private police forces, according to a commercial code which has no relation to public law.

    Corporations have already brought back debtors’ prisons. I have a standing bet with various friends about how long it will be before corporations are permitted to legally enslave human beings again. We already have a form of corporate slavery in which prison inmates get corralled into job lots and sold as slave labor (20 cents per hour) on the auction block by large corporations, to other large corporations. Check out this video of prison auctioneers if you have any doubts about what’s going on.

  5. This entire “trade” wreck and the hidden machinations surrounding it are to me the End. If one has any remainging sense that the leaders of this country give a flyin flip about the citizens and the USA, then I simply conclude that your focus and daily interest must be on Dancing with the Stars. Back to your TV please.


    1. Breton,

      “the leaders of this country give a flyin flip about the citizens and the USA”

      Having met a few, I can say you are quite wrong. These things are seldom binary (not every foe is the Joker). Rather, most prioritize their class interests above those of those. It’s not either – or. They don’t mind trickle down economics, or a modest concern for the working class — and even the underclass — so long as they served first and most.

  6. I can reply that you are quite naive.
    I’ve met and socialized with more than a few. Clearly since you are outside The Outer class as you call professionals, what they speak to you is not what is opined among themselves. Attend a few dinners if you can in Andover at PA or wander over to Exeter, as a guest . Join for a nights stay at the California Club or ride with the Rancheros Vistadores and then the bourbon loosens the tongue.
    They hardly give you even a second Thought. And you could not even date a daughter.
    Pretense and provenance is endemic and a prerequisite.


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