Lessons from the TPP: no political polarization for interests of the 1%!

Summary:  As Congress debates the TPP and USA Freedom Act, it’s become fashionable to complain about political polarization and gridlock. Yet we see in these debates how both parties often cooperate to advance the interests of the 1% and the Deep State. Congress and our Presidents take a thousand steps, seemingly unrelated, adding up to the construction of a great work — a New America.  {1st of 2 posts today.}

Project New America

The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities {that} essentially makes the 1990 Americans With Disabilities Act a non-binding international standard. It requires no change to U.S. law.” The final vote was 61-38 vote (short of the required 2/3 majority); all 38 no votes were Republicans. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-OK) explains their opposition:

“I do oppose the CRPD because I think it does impinge upon our sovereignty … Unelected bureaucratic bodies would implement the treaty and pass so-called recommendations that would be forced upon the United Nations and the U.S. … This would especially affect those parents who home-school their children. … The unelected foreign bureaucrats, not parents, would decide what is in the best interests of the disabled child, even in the home. … I do not support the cumbersome regulations and potentially overzealous international organizations with anti-American biases that infringe upon American society.”

Imhofe’s objections apply equally well to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). But unlike rights for the disabled, the Senator Imhofe and his Republican colleagues in the Senate overcame their principles when necessary to further the interests of the 1% and approve fast-tracking the TPP. (In a telling sideshow, 10 Democrats were not satisfied with this gift to US megacorps, and demanded a pony too — assurance of GOP support for renewal of the megacorp-friendly Export-Import Bank).

Here we see the true nature of US politics today.  The Republicans and Democrats disagree about social issues; this is the  core of our so-called “political polarization”. But the 1% don’t care about most social issues. It’s more important that both parties support the policies that the 1% cares about (to different degrees depending on the issue).

This bifurcation of issues is the elephant in the room that political scientists too often ignore.

This partnership of the 1% and both parties has run America for many years. Dramatic, even fierce, public debate is followed by agreement to do the will of the 1%. Hillary and other Democrats supported Bush’s wars. The GOP supports Obama’s negotiations for the TPP.  The House passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2015 with a bipartisan majority. The Senate passed the Patriot Act extensions with a bipartisan majority.

Occasionally one party or other postures in opposition to key legislation (for public display), so long as it passes. That’s true bipartisanship, of the kind I expect to gain approval for the USA Freedom Act.

NSA Octopus: NROL-39
To understand what’s actually happening we turn to The Hill:

{He} tweeted that shortly after USA Freedom passed the House by a landslide, and his words could not better sum up a situation where the public and news media are being misled by U.S. lawmakers.

The USA Freedom Act is being hyped as a prohibition of the N.S.A.’s controversial mass surveillance practices, but it actually extends the PATRIOT Act for years and opens up new avenues for more invasive forms of government spying. Its passage into law would be more damaging to civil rights than if Congress did nothing at all. To understand why, it’s important to note that the N.S.A.’s practices were never lawful to begin with.

… All of this should be a moot point, because Section 215 of the PATRIOT Act is set to expire on June 1 if Congress does nothing. But USA Freedom would extend this provision until 2019, and, crucially, it would tweak the language to allow the N.S.A.’s mass surveillance programs to continue, with only minor limitations.

On the surface, much of what’s in USA Freedom sounds good: a new public advocate for the F.I.S.C. court would increase surveillance transparency, and new restrictions on bulk data collection would seem to reign-in the N.S.A. Unfortunately, these restrictions are negated by a host of new privacy problems and loopholes.

The bill expands the type of data the government access from landline call data to VoIP calls, video chats and smartphone activity. The government will still be able to use broad search terms to target large portions of the population, and they can collect even more information from contacts “connected” to those targets. Companies that hand customer data over to the government will be rewarded with blanket immunity from lawsuits, even when they violate their own privacy agreements with customers. The N.S.A. will share information with the F.B.I., which can then use the information for investigations unrelated to counterterrorism. And the government can block the F.I.S.C. advocate from seeing anything they want to keep secret.

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Gay marriage, abortion rights, gun rights, education policy — these things are important but insignificant compared to the profound changes in our political regime under way for several decades. Now the pace accelerates. Eventually we’ll come to a Rubicon, a clear line whose crossing future historians will consider the birth of a New America.

Pay attention: the Rubicon might not be obvious as we cross it.

For More Information

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about Reforming America: steps to new politics, and especially see these about the creation of our New America…

  1. Compare our New America to the America-that-once-was (a great nation).
  2. Celebrate what happened one year ago. It’s the birthday of a New America!
  3. The TPP shows the workings of our New America, if we care enough to look.
  4. On Memorial Day let’s admit what we’ve done to America & begin its reform.

Caesar crossing the Rubicon by Adolphe Yvon (1875)

"Caesar" by Adolphe Yvon (1875).
“Caesar” by Adolphe Yvon (1875).

10 thoughts on “Lessons from the TPP: no political polarization for interests of the 1%!”

  1. Very well-presented.

    I just want to add that there may be as many as 25% of the population of the United States that benefit personally through this on-going subservience to the 1 in 100,000 (0.001 percenters). True, there are only a few thousand that personally exercise influence and power in this country. But they would soon be exposed and overturned, if they did not have many millions who are willingly committed to defend them, to serve their interests and to suppress whatever dissent that may rise against them. And most of these millions are not stupid: they understand that their better-than-average status depends entirely on their continued allegiance to this hierarchy.

    The “Rubicon” was crossed more than 20 years ago,when William Jefferson Clinton -the “Manchurian Candidate”- turned away from the traditional values of the Democratic Party, and joined with Newt Gingrich to force NAFTA and the WTO upon us. Separately, but for good measure, he transferred dual-use technology over the objections of his own Secretaries of State and Defense, to the Communist Chinese. A couple of years later, the restrictions on the actions of bankers were lifted, so that everything could be monetized, and everything could fall under the control of Financiers.

    I don’t know how many -too few by any count, as it turned out- understood the consequences back then. And because there are so many millions of us who are committed to the way things now are, it really doesn’t matter how many have come to realize what happened to them then.

    1. Without going into detail about the various elements of our society that knowingly support the hierarchy, let me list a few:
      1. The Federal Government Bureuacracy established in and around Washington, DC
      2. The Upper tiers of our Financial Sector: executives and directors of both financial and industrial corporations. And beneath them, the managerial and professional classes that run those organizations.
      3. The U.S. military which plays an essential role in protecting the interests of the New World Order.
      4.Major academia, which promotes globalization and justifies it in return for grants and retainers from the Financial and Corporate sectors.
      5.Major Media, which need the financial support which comes from the Financial and Corporate sectors.
      6.Police Forces and which have been militarized and increased in order to suppress civil protests.
      7. Various charitable organizations and Non-profits which depend upon the gratuituities provided to them by the 0.001 percenters.

      It is not all-inclusive. But you get the idea.

      1. Arthur,

        While I agree, I believe you are looking at effects — not causes. Ownership of the public policy machine produces the benefits you describe; they are the rewards of success. And of course, they make further victories more likely.

        The causes are the 1% long-term planning, commitment, and good execution — compared with the American public’s steady disengagement. Winning seldom “just happens”.

  2. The convergence of support for the interests of the 1% doesn’t just affect things like trade policy and fiscal issues, it supports the deep state as you say, presumably because that’s a new way for contractors to make billions, and foreign intervention for the same reason. The creation and defense of markets, plus the extra benefit of billions or trillions for arms manufacturers and military contractors, is the most sensible way to understand US foreign policy over the last seventy years.

    The problem, it seems to me, is that I’m not necessarily ready to vote for a politician that’s going to take away rights even if they oppose the convergence and most people on the right feel the same way about giving people some rights, divide and conquer is used because it works and I’m not sure what the solution is. I think campaign finance reform is the biggest first step because at this point appeasing wealthy interests is practically a necessity to win an election.

    1. zaron,

      “I think campaign finance reform is the biggest first step…”

      We can only guess about such things. IMO looking for specific policy changes is tactically useful, but operationally wrong. Strategy must drive tactics, and the higher level goal imo must be mobilization. Any policy changes require mobilization, otherwise the current trend of decreasing public participation means that the policy trend will be against us.

      For more see http://fabiusmaximus.com/america/political-reform-67124-2/

  3. I agree that these are effects rather than causes. But, a reactionary movement -intended to undo or at least to weaken substantially what the 0.001 percenters have done and are doing in this country- will have to prevail against the entrenched interests and political power of these millions of their “retainers”. This class of retainers were consciously built up and nurtured by the elite just for this purpose,

    That is why I want to make the point that it is not merely the few thousand “puppetmasters” of our country that should be the focus of concern. The tens of millions, that will steadfastly resist populist democratic movements collectively, form the main obstacle, albeit at the behest of the elite.

    As long as the elite makes sure that these millions believe that they are better paid and better cared for by supporting the status quo, and as long as they believe that any change to this status quo could jeopardize their positions and their incomes, their resistance to democratic reforms can be assured.

    1. Arthur,

      I agree on all points! This is a common problem facing political reformers. In 19th C Europe the status quo was defended by the broad party of the “alter and throne” alliance, those giving allegiance to Church and Monarchy — against their own economic interests.

      Reform is never easy. It’s not just that it takes decades, but that it requires people willing to work for success decades later.

    1. Pluto,

      I can imagine scenarios, but the actual event will be contingent on impossible to foresee events. My guess at the most likely would be a repeat of what we have seen, a geopolitical attack or economic bust that our leaders use to blast away the remaining shreds of the Constitutional regime — while, of course, keeping the forms. August was just the “first citizen”, not Emperor.

      Hence my fear that we’re burning away time.

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