who can give up essential
liberty to obtain a little temporary
safety, deserve neither liberty
-- Benjamin Franklin
"All governments lie and nothing
say should be believed."
"Power tends to corrupt, and
absolute power corrupts
absolutely. Great men
almost always bad men."
1. Trans-Pacific Partnership: bill on trade deals passes key
2. Elizabeth Warren Tells
Obama To Put Up Or Shut Up On
Corporate “Free Traitors” and You!
4. The TPP: Toward Absolutist Capitalism
5. Spying Close to Home: German
Intelligence Under Fire for
This is a Nederlog of Sunday, April 26,
is a crisis blog. It so happens that 4 of the 5 items
are about the TPP: Item 1 is a rather bad
piece on The Guardian, although it correctly reports that a TPP bill
was passed; item 2 is about a letter Elizabeth
Warren and Sherrod Brown wrote about the TPP to Obama (who freaked out
and lied); item 3 is a good piece by Ralph Nader on
the enormous dangers of the TPP; item 4 is
a fine piece by Lambert Strether about - again - the
enormous dangers of the TPP; and item 5
is about an article on Spiegel On Line that outlines that the Germans
in fact know
and tolerate since 2008 (at the latest) that the Americans spy from
Partnership: bill on trade deals passes key Congress committee
item today is an article by Reuters (in Washington) on The Guardian:
This starts as follows:
This article is here
mostly because of its title: the text is mostly a very
tasteless middle-of-the-road exercise that barely manages to
convey that there is criticism of the TPP, but not at all
what the criticism is (for which see Elizabeth Warren, Ralph
Nader and Lambert Strether below).
Legislation to speed
trade deals through the US Congress cleared a key committee but low
Democratic support signalled a looming battle over a Pacific trade pact
central to President Barack Obama’s strategic shift toward Asia.
Republicans clashed over proposals to punish countries that manipulate
their currencies to gain an export edge and ways to give lawmakers more
leverage over trade deals like the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Despite the partisan
wrangling, the vote in the House of Representatives’ Ways and Means
Committee on Thursday marked an important step forward for the
legislation, which would prohibit Congress from amending trade deals
and allow for simple yes-or-no votes.
Obama and major US trade
partners, including Japan, have said the measure is vital to seal the
I am sorry but this is manipulative journalism by Reuters and
also by The Guardian .
But the title is correct, and now we shall turn to some
expositions of what the TPP is like (which is difficult,
because it is secret, though parts have been published by Wikileaks),
and what the criticism is.
The next three articles explain the views of Elizabeth Warren, Ralph
Nader and Lambert Strether (the last writes for Naked Capitalism) on the TPP. In
case you are not interested, I am sorry: in this Nederlog all but the last article happen to be about the TPP.
Here is a very brief outline of the TPP
taken from Wikipedia (minus note numbers):
Partnership (TPP) is a proposed regional regulatory and
investment treaty. As of 2014, twelve countries throughout the
Asia-Pacific region have participated in negotiations on the TPP: Australia,
New Zealand, Peru, Singapore,
the United States, and Vietnam.
Also, it may be noteworthy
that the secret "trade deal" TPP
is not the same as the also very secret "trade deal"
(from Wikipedia, minus note numbers):
Some global health professionals, internet freedom
environmentalists, organised labour, advocacy groups, and elected
officials have criticised and protested the negotiations, in large part
because of the proceedings' secrecy, the agreement's expansive scope,
and controversial clauses in drafts leaked to the public. Wikileaks has published several documents
Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a proposed free trade agreement
between the European Union and the United States. Proponents say the agreement
would result in multilateral economic growth,
while critics say it would increase corporate power and make it more
difficult for governments to regulate markets for public benefit.
The American government considers the TTIP a companion agreement to the
OK - these were just
some necessary details. To start with, here is Elizabeth Warren:
2. Elizabeth Warren Tells Obama To Put Up Or
Shut Up On Trade
item is an article by Zach Carter on The Huffington Post:
This has a fairly
long subtitle, that I reproduce here because it clarifies some:
suggest,' reads a letter from Sens.
Warren and Sherrod Brown to President Obama, 'that characterizing the
assessments of labor unions, journalists, Members of Congress, and
others who disagree with your approach to transparency on trade issues
as 'dishonest' is both untrue and unlikely to serve the best interests
of the American people.'
In fact, it was an
impertinent and intentionally false slur by Obama, who wants to push
these secret "trade deals" through Congress with the least
possible opposition or criticism, and without any amendments.
The article itself begins as follows:
Indeed, and he stated a
sick lie that he could have totally prevented, namely by
have been hoping to see a showdown
between Elizabeth Warren and Hillary Clinton for years. Instead,
they're getting a public feud between the senator from Massachusetts
and President Barack Obama.
Warren and congressional Democrats on Friday of being "dishonest" and
spreading "misinformation" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership -- a
trade pact the administration is negotiating among 12 nations. The
overwhelming majority of Democrats in Congress oppose TPP, while
Republican leaders support it.
It was an unusually
aggressive attack for the president --
accusing members of his own party not of having misplaced priorities,
but of actively working to deceive the public. Obama is rarely so
severe even with his Republican opponents. Obama said that the
Democratic criticism that "gets on [his] nerves the most" is the notion
that his TPP pact is "secret," and went on to insist that the terms of
TPP will help American workers.
publishing the secret text of his secret "trade deal",
so that everyone who has to decide (Congress) and everyone who is
involved (many hundreds of millions of persons) get a chance to read
the very secret "trade deal" before it is implemented, which
chance they also
would have gotten if the U.S. had been still a working
The reason Obama does not want to publish that very
secret text, and does his all to push it through Congress unread,
uncriticized, and unamended, is that this "trade deal" (like the other
very secret "trade deal", the TTIP) is in fact a neo-fascist bill  that
will kill the sovereignty of the people, of their governments,
of their laws, and of their rights, and will give all of these to
secret neo-fascist courts  that will be led by corporate lawyers
one and only principle will be ... the (expected) profits of the
You do not believe this? Read on: Here is the eminently
reasonable letter to the president by Senators Warren and Brown:
On Saturday, Warren and
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
responded with a letter essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up.
If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration
should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on
a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its
authority to amend it.
"Members of Congress
should be able to discuss the
agreement with our constituents and to participate in a robust public
debate, instead of being muzzled by classification rules," Warren and
Brown wrote in the letter obtained by The Huffington Post.
Democrats and some
Republican critics have been
particularly frustrated by Obama's decision to treat the TPP documents
as classified information, which prevents them from responding to
Obama's claims about the pact in detail.
"Your Administration has
deemed the draft text of the
agreement classified and kept it hidden from public view, thereby
making it a secret deal," the letter reads. "It is currently illegal
for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the
text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress
may 'walk over ... and read the text of the agreement' -- as we have
done -- you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from
discussing the specifics of that text in public."
Obama also neglected to say
that the members of Congress who are allowed to see this neo-fascist
bill  are not even allowed to take notes
on it. (And are not allowed to
even discuss what they remember.)
And there is this:
In other words: About the only
ones who are allowed to read and change the
Warren and Brown said
that corporate support for the deal
shouldn't be surprising.
"Executives of the
country's biggest corporations and
their lobbyists already have had significant opportunities not only to
read [the TPP text], but to shape its terms," the letter reads. "The
Administration’s 28 trade advisory committees on different aspects of
the TPP have a combined 566 members, and 480 of those members, or 85%,
are senior corporate executives or industry lobbyists. Many of the
advisory committees -- including those on chemicals and
pharmaceuticals, textiles and clothing, and services and finance -- are
made up entirely of industry representatives."
very secret TPP are ... the legal representatives
of the very big corporations that are the only ones who are
going to profit enormously from this very secret "trade deal",
essentially by destroying the sovereignty of nations and
goverments, and destroying the rights of the people, and destroying
the laws and judicial protection of nations, all so that the big
corporations profit as much as they can, and can prosecute
governments, in special "courts" that are mostly secret and run
by corporate lawyers, for anything these governments did that lessened
the estimated profits of the big corporations.
But we are not yet discussing the content (which is also difficult,
since it is all very secret). Here comes Ralph Nader:
Obama, Corporate “Free Traitors” and You!
item is an article by Ralph Nader on Common Dreams (and also on Nader's
This starts as
The pro-big business
President Barack Obama and his
corporate allies are starting their campaign to manipulate and pressure
Congress to ram through the “pull-down-on-America” Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP), a trade and foreign investment treaty between twelve
nations (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New
Zealand, Peru, Singapore, the United States and Vietnam).
The first skirmish is a
fast track bill to have Congress
formally strip itself of its constitutional authority to regulate trade
and surrender this historic responsibility to the White House and its
Lest you think the TPP is
too commercially complex to
bother about, think again. This mega-treaty is the latest corporate
coup-d’état that sacrifices the American consumer, labor and
environmental standards – inventively called “non-tariff trade
barriers” – and much U.S. sovereignty to the supremacy of corporate
No single column can
adequately describe this colossal
betrayal – camouflaged by phrases like “free trade” and “win-win
agreements.” For comprehensive analysis of the TPP you can go to Global
Trade Watch (http://www.citizen.org/trade/).
here is why Ralph Nader and Elizabeth Warren oppose this "corporate
coup-d’état that sacrifices the American consumer, labor
environmental standards (..) and
much U.S. sovereignty to the supremacy of corporate
This - the last
paragraph - is also why I call these "trade deals" neo-fascist.  And the TPP and the TTIP will make this a lot
easier, and indeed they are really not "trade deals": they propose the
end of national law, national governments, national sovereignty,
parliamentary sovereignty and human rights of any kind.
This is why Senator
Elizabeth Warren is opposing the TPP. She wrote
in the Washington Post that the TPP, “would allow foreign
companies to challenge U.S. laws — and potentially to pick up huge
payouts from taxpayers — without ever stepping foot in a U.S. court.”
For example, if a company
doesn’t like our controls over cancer-causing chemicals, it could skip
the U.S. courts and sue the U.S. before a secret tribunal that can hand
down decisions, which can’t be challenged in U.S. courts. If it won
before this secret kangaroo court, it could be given millions or
hundreds of millions of dollars in damages, charged to you, the
taxpayer. Again, the big business “free traitors” are shredding our
sovereignty under the Constitution.
Scores of such cases
already have been brought under the WTO. Senator Warren explained that “recent
cases include a French company that sued Egypt because Egypt raised
its minimum wage, a Swedish company that sued
Germany because Germany decided to phase out nuclear power after
Japan’s Fukushima disaster, and a Dutch company that sued the Czech
Republic because the Czechs didn’t bail out a bank that the company
partially owned… Philip
Morris is trying to use ISDS to stop Uruguay from implementing new
tobacco regulations intended to cut smoking rates.”
But perhaps that is still unclear? Check out the following item:
TPP: Toward Absolutist Capitalism
The next item is an article
by Lambert Strether that I found on Truth-out but that first appeared
on Naked Capitalism:
is a very good article you should read all of. I will quote two parts
of it. The first considers the ISDS, that is: the Investor-State
Dispute Settlement mechanisn, which is essentially a secret "court" in
which corporate lawyers will decide cases (in secret, without appeals):
Let’s look more deeply
into the ISDS as an institution.
First, we’ll look at the “Absolutist” nature of the TPP. Then we’ll
look at “Capitalism” under the TPP.
The TPP Implies a
Form of Absolute Rule, a Tyranny
as James Madison Would Have Understood the Term. First,
the ISDS tribunals, putatively courts, are completely
unaccountable. Public Citizen:
TPP ISDS tribunals
would be staffed by highly paid
corporate lawyers unaccountable to any electorate or system of legal
Second, the ISDS
tribunals are riddled with conflicts of
interest and open invitations to corruption. Public Citizen:
Many of [the corporate
lawyers] involved rotate between
acting as “judges” and as advocates for the investors launching cases
against governments. Such dual roles would be deemed unethical in most
legal systems. The leaked text does not include new conflict of
interest rules, despite growing concern about the bias inherent in the
Third, there is no appeal
from the judgements of these
putative courts. Public Citizen:
There is no internal or
external mechanism to appeal the
tribunal members’ decisions on the merits, and claims of procedural
errors would be decided by another tribunal of corporate lawyers.
Fourth and finally, the
discretion of the ISDS tribunals
is so great that they can write the rules, as well as interpret
them. Public Citizen:
There are no new
safeguards that limit ISDS tribunals’
discretion to of governments’ obligations to foreign investors and
order compensation on that basis.The leaked text reveals the same
“safeguard” terms that have been included in U.S. pacts since the 2005
Central America Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). CAFTA tribunals have
simply ignored the “safeguard” provisions that the leaked text
replicates for the TPP, and have continued to rule against governments
based on to which governments never agreed.
In the first three
points, the ISDS tribunals are
acting as putative courts, albeit conflicted, potentially corrupt, and
anti-democratic and unaccountable courts. However, in the fourth point,
the tribunals are, functionally, legislatures. Here is
what Madison had to say about mixing judicial and legislative
power. Federalist 47:
of all powers, legislative,
executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or
many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly
be pronounced the very definition of tyranny. …Were the power of
judging joined with the legislative, the life and liberty of the
subject would be exposed to arbitrary control, for the judge would
then be the legislator.
So, what Madison warned
of is exactly what ISDS does: The
judge is the legislator, leading to “arbitary control.” And arbritary
control is absolutism, just as surely as it was in the age of the
divine right of kings.
And for bonus points, the judges and the legislators are conflicted,
open to corruption, and accountable neither to the voters nor to any
system of precedent.
is a long quotation, but I suppose it does clarify some of my reasons
to call this schema "corporate neo-fascism" a.k.a. "tyranny" (rather
than "absolutist capitalism" - but yes, I do know a lot about
fascism, and I also know many don't like the term, also not when its
use is quite appropriate).
case this is not clear, here is the second quote:
this TPP + TTIP schema is the schema Obama very
much wants to move through Congress, without it being read, without
it being discussed, and without any rights for Congress (!!) to
In other words, TPP
elevates capitalization — the expectation of
profit — as a principle to the level of, say, the Bill of Rights, or
the Declaration of the Rights of Man. And then, government, when it
provides concrete material benefits to its citizens,
must “compensate” capitalists whenever their calculated, immaterial
expectations — capitalization — have been “expropriated.” What a
racket! TPP is the biggest enclosure in the history of the world!
5. Spying Close to Home: German Intelligence
Under Fire for NSA Cooperation
item today is an article by six journalists on Spiegel On Line:
This starts with a
summary that I reproduce because it clarifies things (bold in the
spent years spying on European
targets from a secretive base. Now, it seems that German intelligence
was aware of the espionage -- and did nothing to stop it.
I must say I am not
very amazed, simply because (i) spying on everyone will produce enormous
amounts of information that may be used for all sorts of ends, now and
later (thus, you may be locked up in 2035 for some things you
wrote in private to a friend in 2015), and because (ii) secret
the NSA and the BND (the German NSA, in brief) tend to be a law to
themselves through being secret (and uncontrolled, while being heavily
from the taxes).
Here is some on the cooperation between the NSA and the BND (and the
"tin can" that gets mentioned is an American spying center on German
The heads of the two
intelligence agencies had agreed to
continue cooperating there in secret. Together, they established joint
working groups, one for the acquisition of data, called Joint Sigint
Activity, and one for the analysis of that data, known as the Joint
But the Germans were
apparently not supposed to know
everything their partners in the "tin can" were doing. The Americans
weren't just interested in terrorism; they also used their technical
abilities to spy on companies and agencies in Western Europe. They
didn't even shy away from pursuing German targets.
The Germans noticed -- in
2008, if not sooner. But nothing
was done about it until 2013, when an analysis triggered by
whistleblower Edward Snowden's leaks showed that the US was using the
facility to spy on German and Western European targets.
On Thursday, though,
SPIEGEL ONLINE revealed that the US
spying was vastly more extensive than first thought. The revelations
have been met with extreme concern in the German capital -- partly
because they mark the return of a scandal that two successive Merkel
administrations have never truly sought to clear up.
Note especially that "The Germans noticed -- in 2008, if not
sooner. But nothing
was done about it until 2013"
- and then nothing much was done either.
There is considerably more in the article.
P.S. Apr 27, 2015: I corrected "TPIP" to "TTIP".
an aside, but continueing the Nederlog I
wrote in February: I do not think I have seen one
single properly sharp photographic picture on the site of The
Guardian (that was "renewed" in a truly horrible way, it seems
was changed: Every picture I saw was - it seems carefully and
on principle - unsharpened (and no: this happens only
on The Guardian's site, and I look every day at least at 40 other
sites); and I also have not seen any properly sharp video
on The Guardian site.
As I am not English, I have chosen not to care much (having
seen the formerly quite fine Dutch paper NRC-Handelsblad, that I read
from 1970-2010 - a mere forty years - go nearly completely to pieces
since 2010), but I find these changes quite amazing, as
is the total lack of any discussion (that I saw).
It also reminds me strongly of a tendency I first noted around 2000:
Many ordinary commodities are cheapened, simplified, uglified, as if to
make clear to their buyers that they are definitely
second-rate ciitizens. I do not know whether this is true (but
I did see a great lot of cheapened,
simplified, and uglified commodities), but in any case I now expect
that The Guardian will be much like The Times within 5 years or so.
It's a very great pity, but since I am not English, I have
chosen not to care.
 You do not need to agree with
me, but I do think that a secret bill that destroys the
sovereignty of nations and of governments, destroys the legal
rights of populations, and allows big corporations to attack any
law and any governmental measure that threatens to diminish
their expectations of their profits a neo-fascist
bill if there ever was one.
And in case you want to protest: I am the son of a man who
spend over 3 year and 9 months in German concentration camps as a
convicted "political terrorist"; and the grandson of a man who was
in a German concentration camp because he too was convicted as a
"political terrorist". Unless you have been reading for 50 years in
philosophy and science, and unless you have my excellent M.A. degree in
psychology and B.A. degree in philosophy (only A's), it is quite
likely you do not know - by far - as much about fascism as I do.