CIA’s Torture Experts Now Use Their Skills In Secret Drone Program As Obama Dances Away From Responsibility

 

forcechange.com / Sign petition

 
By Trevor Timm
The Guardian (4/29/15)
 

The controversy over the CIA’s secret drone program has gone from bad to worse this week. We now know that many of those running it are the same people who headed the CIA’s torture program, the spy agency can bomb people unilaterally without the president’s explicit approval and that the government is keeping the entire program classified explicitly to prevent a federal court from ruling it illegal. And worst of all, Congress is perfectly fine with it.

Promoting killers

The New York Times reported on Sunday that many of those in charge of the CIA’s torture program – the same people whose names were explicitly redacted from the Senate’s torture report in order to avert accountability – “have ascended to the agency’s powerful senior ranks” and now run the CIA drone program under the agency’s Counterterrorism Center. Rather than being fired and prosecuted, they have been rewarded with promotions.

The longtime Counterrorism Center chief who just stepped down, Michael D’Andrea, was previously in charge of the notorious CIA prison known as the Salt Pit, where prisoners were regularly tortured and some died. His replacement, Chris Wood, was also “central to the interrogation program”, according to the Times.

The only reason we know D’Andrea and Wood’s names is because the New York Times’ executive editor Dean Baquet commendably decided to publish them – unlike the many newspapers who refused to for virtually no other reason except for the fact that the CIA asked them not to. As Baquet put it to the Huffington Post: “It would have been weird to not name the guys who run it. They’re not undercover. They’re not unknown. They’re sort of widely known.”

Unilateral carte blanche killers

Adding to the disturbing nature of the CIA’s ability to kill people in complete secrecy, the agency apparently now has a carte blanche to conduct drone strikes on its own. According to the New York Times, President Obama doesn’t individually approve them anymore – he lets the CIA unilaterally decide to kill people if the strikes “fit certain criteria.” We have no idea what those conditions are since virtually everything about drone strikes at the CIA is secret.

Prior to last week’s controversial drone strike, the public at least had the general outlines of what the supposed rules constraining drone strikes were. After the last major drone controversy in 2013, the president announced the government would need to know with “near certainty” that civilians would not get killed. Obama called it: “the highest standard we can set” in a highly publicized 2013 speech.

Obama’s lies

Yet, up until the Wall Street Journal reported it on Sunday, the public did not know that Obama secretly gave the CIA a “waiver” from those rules for drone strikes in Pakistan, the place where the vast majority of the CIA’s strikes over the last decade have occurred. The publicly-touted policy was made meaningless by a classified order the public had no idea about. (Sound familiar?)

The most absurd part of this whole debate is that the White House actually refused to admit that the two hostages killed in Pakistan died in a US drone strike. Despite an almost universal acknowledgement by media reports – and a multitude of leaks by anonymous US officials – that the hostages were killed by a CIA drone, the administration has attempted to argue that it was a “counterterrorism operation” that resulted in the hostages’ deaths. This led to an awkward exchange between the press and the White House press secretary Josh Earnest, in which it was clear to everyone in the room what had happened, but the White House could not utter the word “drone.”

Running scared

The reason for this denial apparently has nothing to do with legitimate secrets; the administration just wants to avoid a court ruling their program illegal. The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday: “the Attorney General’s office warned Mr. Obama that publicly disclosing the CIA’s role in this case would undermine the administration’s standing in a series of pending lawsuits challenging its legality”.

Think about that for a second: The Obama administration has promised more transparency around drone strikes, yet at the same time, won’t even acknowledge that the controversial drone strike it’s apologizing for even happened – just because such admission might force courts to hold the government accountable for its actions.

The dismal state of affairs around drone strike transparency was perfectly summed up in an exchange in early 2013, when the Guardian’s Spencer Ackerman, then writing for Wired, asked Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Dianne Feinstein why, if the CIA repeatedly and brazenly lied to Congress about torture, she trusted the spy agency to tell the truth about drone strikes. Senator Feinstein’s response still encapsulates the current debate: “That’s a good question, actually. That’s a good question.”

More than two years later, we still don’t have an answer.

Link to Story

 

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Tagged , | Comments Off

American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says

“…doing special things to special people in special places…”

By James Risen
The New York Times (4/30/15)

WASHINGTON — The American Psychological Association secretly collaborated with the administration of President George W. Bush to bolster a legal and ethical justification for the torture of prisoners swept up in the post-Sept. 11 war on terror, according to a new report by a group of dissident health professionals and human rights activists.

The report is the first to examine the association’s role in the interrogation program. It contends, using newly disclosed emails, that the group’s actions to keep psychologists involved in the interrogation program coincided closely with efforts by senior Bush administration officials to salvage the program after the public disclosure in 2004 of graphic photos of prisoner abuse by American military personnel at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Tagged , | Comments Off

Let’s Debunk A Few Republican State Budget Myths

By Sen. Kathleen Vineout (4/22/5) 
 

“I’m okay with the cuts,” the man wrote me. “It’s shameful to pass debt on to our children.” In the man’s message, he implies a common misconception about Wisconsin – there is no state debt.

Wisconsin owes a lot of money. The state budget proposes that we borrow even more money. The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) reported in January that the state owed about $13.8 billion. This is slightly less than the previous year, but almost $600 million more than when Governor Doyle left office.

The conservative Tax Foundation reported in 2011 Wisconsin ranked 18th of 50 states in terms of the worst state debt per person ($4,013). In 2013, Wisconsin ranked 16th of 50 states ($4,044 per person). Wisconsin is headed the wrong direction in paying off the debt.

Putting debt on the tab

The Governor is proposing a great deal more borrowing in the new budget. Of greatest concern is the borrowing to pay for roads and bridges. The LFB estimates by the end of the coming budget almost a quarter of every dollar in transportation will be spent on debt payments.

Adding to future debt is the Governor’s proposal to build a stadium for the Bucks. The LFB estimates the interest alone on this proposal exceeds $400 million using the plan proposed by the Governor.  Final payments are estimated to be in fiscal year 2046-47.

I’d say that’s passing debt on to our grandchildren.

Another common budget myth is the Governor paid all the debt bills coming due. To answer that myth – the Governor is not paying about $108 million in debt payments coming due this year.

In order to free up cash, governors of both political stripes did not make debt payments. Governors Doyle and McCallum did not make debt payments during downturns in the economy. The largest delayed debt payments were under Governor Walker in the 2011-13 legislative session in which over $550 million were delayed.

I imagine the reason the Governor delayed making debt payment this year was to free up cash to cover a deficit in the current budget; which brings us to another budget myth.

Walker the big spender

A popular myth is Governor Walker has spending under control. But spending in the current budget outpaced revenue.

In February of this year the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance analyzed three factors leading to an imbalance between revenue and spending.

“Tax cuts, the technical college aid jump, and soft tax collections led to revenues once again falling short of expenditures. The shortfall was $261 million last year and could grow to as large as $800 million this year, which would be the largest gap in over 20 years.”

These problems continue going forward. Using estimates released by the LFB last month, spending is estimated to outpace revenue in the next budget by over a billion in the first year and nearly $700 million in the second year.

The Legislature is required by the state Constitution to submit a balanced budget to the Governor. Therefore, when the budget passes in June, spending will be trimmed or revenues enhanced to deal with this imbalance.

Another common myth related to spending is that the Governor is spending less money in this new budget than in prior budgets.

The truth is the 2015-17 state budget spends $4.76 billion more than the last.

At $74.7 billion this budget is the largest in state history. That said, because of inflation, nearly every new budget is larger than the previous one.

But to say this budget is smaller than the last is false.

One reason the myth of a smaller budget exists is because some estimates of the size of the coming budget did not include all University of Wisconsin spending. Of course, to make an apples-to-apples comparison we need to include all the spending from the UW as we have in the past.

I hope this clears up a few of the common budget myths. If you want to learn more, please come to one of my budget town hall meetings. Check my website for dates, times and locations of upcoming town hall meetings -

Link to Story

 

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Comments Off

“Fast Track” For Super Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Subverts Our Constitution And Citizen Rights

(Editor’s Note: This story appeared on the Daily Call website Saturday but for some reason did not go out on the daily post to subscribers. It is being run again so that all readers have an opportunity to see this important article. — Mark L. Taylor)

 

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(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org)

The founders gave the Senate advice and consent powers for a reason, and there’s no reason to throw those powers out the window just to make a few corporate lobbyists happy.

 
By Thom Hartman
Truthout (4/27/15)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren isn’t backing down one inch in her fight with President Obama over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

On Saturday, just a few days after the president accused her of spreading “misinformation,” about the TPP trade deal I like to call SHAFTA, the Massachusetts senator hit back hard in a letter to the White House.

While the Obama administration has, she pointed out, given 500 or so corporate lobbyists inside access to TPP negotiations, it has left the public completely in the dark.

In fact, as Senator Warren went on to write, “It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while … Members of Congress may ‘walk over … and read the text of the agreement’ – as we have done – [we] are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public.”

That’s right – members of Congress, the elected representatives of “We the People” can’t talk to the public about the biggest trade treaty in US history.

And Senator Warren isn’t making this up, as the Obama administration would have you believe, just to score political points.

A few years ago, before the TPP even became the hot-button issue it is now, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio came on this show and talked about the kind of crazy hoops he had to jump through just to look at one of the more than 20 chapters in a draft version of the deal.

Secrecy and no real debate

If you thought that was bad, though, here’s the real kicker: If the Obama administration gets its way, Congress won’t even get a chance to really debate the TPP before it becomes the law of the land.

That’s because right now, with the full backing of the White House, the House and Senate are considering bills that would give President Obama “fast-track” powers in regards to the TPP and all other trade deals from now until the end of his time in office – and for the first four years of the next president.

If Congress does give President Obama fast-track power, our elected representatives wouldn’t be allowed to make any amendments whatsoever to trade deals like the TPP.

Instead, the treaty would be sent right to the floor where it would only have to pass a simple up-or-down vote after debate limited to eight minutes per member.

This, to paraphrase Joe Biden, is a big f**ing deal.

Stalking horse for corporate elite

We need Congress to have as much say as possible about what goes into the final version of the TPP because, as it is right now, the TPP is a stalking horse for the corporate elite.

What little we know about it comes from leaks, and those leaks show that it’s basically a grab bag of all the terrible things Big Business has always wanted but is too scared to ask for in public.

The TPP would give big pharmaceutical companies virtual monopoly patent power, gut environmental and financial rules and, according to Wikileaks, let corporations sue countries in international courts over regulations that those corporations don’t like.

Sounds scary, right? You bet, which is exactly why Senator Warren wants Congress to reject fast track altogether and have a real debate about the TPP.

But the issues with fast track go deeper than just what is or what isn’t in the TPP.

Over throwing the Constitution

Ultimately, what’s really the problem with fast track is that it would prevent the Senate from performing one of its most important constitutional obligations: giving its advice and consent to international treaties.

You see, although its supporters call it a “deal” or an “agreement,” the TPP is really a treaty because it’s an agreement between our government and a group of foreign governments over how they want to interact with each other.

And under the Constitution, treaties have to be approved by two-thirds of the Senate to go into effect.

But that wouldn’t need to happen if Congress gives President Obama fast-track powers.

If Congress grants President Obama fast-track powers, the TPP would instead just have to pass a simple majority vote to become law.

In other words, it would no longer have to pass the two-thirds approval muster required by the Constitution.

This is something everyone, whether they’re a Republican or Democrat, can agree is wrong.

The founders gave the Senate advice and consent powers for a reason, and there’s no reason to throw those powers out the window just to make a few corporate lobbyists happy.

So call your elected representative today to tell them that you support the Constitution, and therefore oppose fast-track powers for the TPP.

Link to Story

  • Confused About Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Issue? Watch This Democrat Make The Case For Why It Would Be Awful For America – ”Here are the numbers and the numbers do not lie … This is not free trade, this is fake trade.” Link to Story and 9-Minute Video
Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off

Obama’s Harvard Mentor Joins Group Of Legal Experts Warning Secret Corporate Tribunals In Shady TPP Trade Deal Undermine US Sovereignty

By Greg Sargent
The Washington Post (4/30/15)

For many liberal critics, the problem with the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal isn’t simply the worry that it could lead to more job loss by exposing American manufacturing to more import competition. Rather, they assert that the TPP is in many ways not even a trade agreement: Its real offense is in the areas of intellectual property and global dispute settlement, where the deal, they say, could further tilt the playing field towards major corporations.

Corporations coming after local governments

Specifically: Many on the left have raised concerns about the Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanism, which would allow major corporations to litigate disputes with local governments in a manner designed to create a stable legal environment for investments in participating countries.

Now a group of senior legal experts — including Obama’s old Harvard mentor, Laurence Tribe, who has been representing the coal industry against Obama’s EPA regulations — is weighing in on the controversial ISDS provision, pronouncing it contrary to American legal traditions.

In a new letter to Congressional leaders, these legal experts lay out an expansive case against the ISDS on legal grounds, as opposed to economic ones, claiming it would “undermine democratic norms.” Alliance for Justice helped organize the letter.

This takes the argument a bit outside the turf where it has mostly been fought. Elizabeth Warren has raised legal concerns but has mostly argued that TPP’s ISDS would allow foreign companies to challenge and undermine American regulations and gouge American taxpayers in settlements.  President Obama has aggressively pushed back, arguing that the ISDS can’t trump American law; that there are many ISDS mechanisms already in existence; and that the U.S. has never lost a case in one.

In their letter, the legal experts — who include Tribe, Yale’s Judith Resnik, University of California’s Cruz Reynoso, former federal judge Lee Sarokin, and Joseph Stiglitz, who is not a lawyer but a major economist — argue:

Our legal system rests on the conviction that every individual, regardless of wealth or power, has an equal right to bring a case to court. To protect and uphold the rule of law, our ideals of fairness and justice must apply in all situations and equally to everyone. ISDS, in contrast, is a system built on differential access. ISDS provides a separate legal system available only to certain investors who are authorized to exit the American legal system. Only foreign investors may bring claims under ISDS provisions. This option is not offered to nations, domestic investors, or civil society groups alleging violations of treaty obligations. Under ISDS regimes, foreign investors alone are granted legal rights unavailable to others — freed from the rulings and procedures of domestic courts.

ISDS also risks undermining democratic norms because laws and regulations enacted by democratically-elected officials are put at risk in a process insulated from democratic input. Equal application of the law is another critically important hallmark of our legal system — one that is secured through orderly development of the law. Court decisions are subject to appeal, ensuring that conflicting lower court decisions are resolved by a higher authority. Judges also must follow legal precedent. The goal is uniform application of the law regardless of which judge or court hears a case. This law development allows people, entities, and nations alike to order their behavior according to well-established legal principles.

In contrast, ISDS does not build in the development of the law. An ISDS arbitral panel’s decision cannot be appealed to a court. The ISDS provisions of which we are aware provide only limited — private — review through a process called annulment that does not permit decisions to be set aside based even on a “manifest error of law.” Moreover, ISDS arbitrators, like other arbitrators, do not make law because their decisions have no precedential value, and ISDS arbitrators in turn are not obliged to follow precedent in reaching their own decisions…

ISDS arbitrators are not public servants but private arbitrators. In many cases, there is a revolving door between serving on ISDS arbitration panels and representing corporations bringing ISDS claims. Yet, although such a situation would seem to call for more — not less — oversight and accountability, ISDS arbitrators’ decisions are functionally unreviewable.

The Obama administration would argue that ISDS does not function as a shadow mechanism outside American courts; it provides a fair, stable mechanism for resolving disputes between American companies and other countries’ governments.

“Part of our goal here is to make sure that there is a neutral process that is legally recognized, so that if an arbitrary burden or tax or tariff is imposed on a U.S. company in these countries, that they have recourse to a fair, impartial venue to resolve it,” Obama said recently. “Foreign countries already have that here in the U.S.”

Meanwhile, the Huffington Post reports that Hillary Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, contains a passage that criticizes the ISDS mechanism, arguing that it empowers investors to “sue foreign governments to weaken their environmental and public health rules.” That’s the case Warren and others have already made. The new criticism from legal experts could push the debate over ISDS in a new direction.

Link to Story

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off

Rep. Billings and Sen. Shilling Plan Long-Term Care Public Hearing Monday In LaCrosse

The LaCrosse Tribune (4/29/15)

Rep. Jill Billings, D-La Crosse, and Sen. Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, will hold a community listening session to discuss Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed changes to aging and long term care programs in the state budget.

Members of the community are invited to attend and share their thoughts on the proposed changes and other concerns about the 2015-17 biennial budget.

“The many cuts and changes in the Republican budget have left people concerned on the impact it will have on their families and their pocketbook,” Billings said. “I hear from members of the La Crosse community almost daily, who are worried about the effect changes to long term care will have on their loved ones.”

The listening session will feature several local experts on aging and long term care. Details for the listening session are as follows:

The hearing will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Monday in the basement auditorium of the La Crosse County Health & Human Services Building, 300 N. Fourth Street.

Link to Story

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Comments Off

Elizabeth Warren Praises Bernie Sanders’ Prez Bid

By Prisca Pointdujour
Boston Herald (5/2/15)

Bay State U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren welcomed fellow liberal from the north, Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, into the presidential sweepstakes yesterday, even as she continues to resist efforts to draft her into the race.

“I’m glad to see him get out there and give his version of what leadership in this country should be,” Warren said while at Middlesex Community College in Lowell yesterday. “I think that Bernie Sanders is going to play out a vision for America and that it is important for people to hear what he has to say.”

Warren has repeatedly said she will not run for president, despite a nationwide campaign urging her to throw her hat in the ring. Sanders shares many of Warren’s causes, such as breaking up big Wall Street banks, and many see him as the party’s only real chance to force Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton to tackle more liberal issues.

Sanders will make his first visit to New Hampshire today since launching his campaign Wednesday.

Meanwhile, Warren also said it’s time to rebuild ties between police and communities.

“People are angry and frustrated, and they have a reason to be,” Warren said. “That never excuses violence against the police, but we need to have a more serious conversation about what’s gone wrong in Baltimore and other places throughout this country and how to repair that.”

Warren said outrage over Freddie Gray, the Baltimore man who died in police custody, was due to mounting frustrations.

“It’s something we must address,” she said. “We have shoved this problem out of the spotlight for years and that’s been part of what’s erupted now in Baltimore.”

Link to Story and Two Short Warren and Bernie Videos

  • Help Get Bernie’s Campaign Up And Running. Looks like the full web page will be up May 26. Link to www.berniesanders.com
Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Comments Off

Get Your ‘Bernie 2016′ Button Here

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The Daily Call has a snazzy new “Bernie 2016″ campaign button made up and available for the cost of a self-addressed stamped envelope. If you are so inclined to toss a contribution in the envelope we will make more buttons and send half into the campaign. No money will be kept by the Daily Call.

At the Third Congressional Democratic Convention in LaCrosse on Saturday 30 buttons were snapped up by eager Bernie fans, almost a third of the people at the convention. There was quite a Bernie buzz among those I spoke to, who are excited that a genuinely progressive voice has stepped into the presidential campaign. If anyone can stir up the debate, Sanders is the man.

The Daily Call will send off a donation of $30 to the campaign. The remainder of the money collected will be used to buy more buttons as needed. As of today we have 20 in stock. If you would like your personal “Bernie 2016″ button send your self-addressed, stamped envelope to: Mark L. Taylor, PO Box 35, Genoa, WI 54632.

Authorized and paid for by Mark L. Taylor, Genoa, WI., and not a campaign committee.
Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Comments Off

Reusable Police Brutality Video: The Baltimore Edition

Unfortunately, given the regular diet of beating and gunshot deaths of young black men by police across the nation, the following video really could be used by television stations. Just rewind, fill in the blanks and play over and over … and over again.

1+-Minute Video

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off

Latest Updates On Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Deal On Daily Call Archive

 Image result for trans pacific partnership
 
 
 
The Daily Call

The Daily Call has built up an extensive archive of articles and commentaries on the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) corporate-designed trade deal. If passed, the hidden agreements buried in this 29-chapter document will profoundly impact the daily life of every American and shatter our nation’s sacred sovereignty and independence.

Under the TPP every law, regulation and standard from the local to the national government will be subject to being overturned by a tribunal of international corporate lawyers. Of the 29 chapters in the TPP, only 5 deal with trade. The rest deal with things like copyright and freedom of the internet. Two of the chapters would not even be revealed publicly until 4 years after passage of the TPP.

The deal has been hammered out by corporate lawyers and fixers and most of it has been kept secret from congress.

The TPP is a clear and present danger to everyone, regardless of political affiliation. We will be updating the Daily Call TPP archive as we learn more. Don’t depend upon the corporate dominated mainstream media to keep you informed on this one — they stand to benefit from the TPP.

Please forward the archive link to others.

You can access the TPP archive for free HERE.

 

Posted in 2015-04-30, 2015-05-01, 2015-05-02, 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Comments Off

Dept. Of Much Needed Humor — Nation Just Hoping Next President Can Prevent Country’s Decline From Being Totally Humiliating

“We need a leader who will help us bow out as gracefully as possible, so we can just transfer the reins to China or whoever without making a huge deal about it.”

 
The Onion (4/29/15)

WASHINGTON—As momentum builds toward the 2016 election, citizens across the nation told reporters this week they simply hope the next president of the United States can prevent the country’s decline from being an utterly humiliating experience for the American public.

Rather than discussing policy issues they feel strongly about, U.S. voters spoke instead of their desire to just put someone in the White House capable of getting America through the next four years of increased income inequality, environmental degradation, and catastrophic international entanglements with some shred of its dignity intact.

“This time around, I’m really only asking for a president who can keep us from embarrassing ourselves any more than we already have as our country continues sliding backward,” said 36-year-old Cleveland resident Michael Shapiro, adding that he will throw his full support behind any candidate who demonstrates a clear vision for navigating the country through its unavoidable downfall with as much self-respect as can be mustered. “We need a leader who will help us bow out as gracefully as possible, so we can just transfer the reins to China or whoever without making a huge deal about it.”

“We’re already kind of a global laughingstock when it comes to things like health care, education, and our middle class,” he continued. “So if whoever’s in charge could just make sure we hold on to, say, our basic housing infrastructure and relatively clean water supply during our tailspin, that’d be great.”

According to a Quinnipiac University poll conducted last month, 64 percent of Americans said their vote will hinge entirely on whichever candidate, regardless of party, can help the nation preserve some semblance of integrity while its moral standing in the world continues to plummet. Meanwhile, 58 percent reported they were desperate for a leader who can assume the responsibilities of commander-in-chief without making the country look completely helpless and ineffective in every single international dispute.

In addition, 87 percent of citizens confirmed that during the next presidential term, they merely hope to occasionally read something about their country in the news that doesn’t leave them feeling ashamed, angry, depressed, or completely mortified.

“It’s pretty simple, really: Just lay out a clear-cut, straightforward plan for a future in which we don’t totally go down in flames on a grand stage, and you’ve got my vote,” said Allison Joyce, a 47-year-old middle school teacher from Bethesda, MD. “Look, I don’t need to be inspired; I don’t need to be assured our future is bright; I don’t need to be told I’m strong and resilient in the face of hardship. Just convince me we can get through the next decade in the least demeaning way possible given all our problems with childhood poverty, gun violence, and people dying because they can’t afford medical treatment. That’s it.”

“That’s seriously all I want from my president going forward,” she added. “Just the faintest of silver linings that I can hold on to while everything else goes down the drain.”

Though they admitted to reporters that no one in the current field of presidential hopefuls seems likely to spare the country much humiliation while its infrastructure crumbles and its reputation is reduced to tatters, most voters expressed optimism that such a candidate will eventually emerge.

“We know what’s in store for America, so if we could elect someone who’s committed to keeping things somewhat tolerable while the whole place goes to hell, that’d be great,” said Seattle-based tax attorney Greg Hudson, 57. “It’s really our best hope at this point. The British Empire kind of just gradually fell by the wayside without too much embarrassment. Maybe we can, too. Who knows, we might still be able to go out with a little bit of class.”

“Then again,” Hudson added, “maybe at this point the best option is to put someone in the White House who will just bite the bullet and get this whole thing over with as quickly as possible.”

Link to Story

Posted in 2015-05-03, Newsletter | Comments Off

Sunday / May 3, 2015

(See “CIA’s Torture Experts”, below.)

Posted in 2015-05-03 | Tagged | Comments Off

Saturday / May 2, 2015

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(See All The Stories on the Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP)

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“Fast Track” For Super Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Subverts Our Constitution And Citizen Rights

Scan 5

(Daily Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2015. Open source and free to use with link to www.thedailycall.org)

The founders gave the Senate advice and consent powers for a reason, and there’s no reason to throw those powers out the window just to make a few corporate lobbyists happy.

 
By Thom Hartman
Truthout (4/27/15)

Sen. Elizabeth Warren isn’t backing down one inch in her fight with President Obama over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

On Saturday, just a few days after the president accused her of spreading “misinformation,” about the TPP trade deal I like to call SHAFTA, the Massachusetts senator hit back hard in a letter to the White House.

While the Obama administration has, she pointed out, given 500 or so corporate lobbyists inside access to TPP negotiations, it has left the public completely in the dark.

In fact, as Senator Warren went on to write, “It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while … Members of Congress may ‘walk over … and read the text of the agreement’ – as we have done – [we] are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public.”

That’s right – members of Congress, the elected representatives of “We the People” can’t talk to the public about the biggest trade treaty in US history.

And Senator Warren isn’t making this up, as the Obama administration would have you believe, just to score political points.

A few years ago, before the TPP even became the hot-button issue it is now, Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio came on this show and talked about the kind of crazy hoops he had to jump through just to look at one of the more than 20 chapters in a draft version of the deal.

Secrecy and no real debate

If you thought that was bad, though, here’s the real kicker: If the Obama administration gets its way, Congress won’t even get a chance to really debate the TPP before it becomes the law of the land.

That’s because right now, with the full backing of the White House, the House and Senate are considering bills that would give President Obama “fast-track” powers in regards to the TPP and all other trade deals from now until the end of his time in office – and for the first four years of the next president.

If Congress does give President Obama fast-track power, our elected representatives wouldn’t be allowed to make any amendments whatsoever to trade deals like the TPP.

Instead, the treaty would be sent right to the floor where it would only have to pass a simple up-or-down vote after debate limited to eight minutes per member.

This, to paraphrase Joe Biden, is a big f**ing deal.

Stalking horse for corporate elite

We need Congress to have as much say as possible about what goes into the final version of the TPP because, as it is right now, the TPP is a stalking horse for the corporate elite.

What little we know about it comes from leaks, and those leaks show that it’s basically a grab bag of all the terrible things Big Business has always wanted but is too scared to ask for in public.

The TPP would give big pharmaceutical companies virtual monopoly patent power, gut environmental and financial rules and, according to Wikileaks, let corporations sue countries in international courts over regulations that those corporations don’t like.

Sounds scary, right? You bet, which is exactly why Senator Warren wants Congress to reject fast track altogether and have a real debate about the TPP.

But the issues with fast track go deeper than just what is or what isn’t in the TPP.

Over throwing the Constitution

Ultimately, what’s really the problem with fast track is that it would prevent the Senate from performing one of its most important constitutional obligations: giving its advice and consent to international treaties.

You see, although its supporters call it a “deal” or an “agreement,” the TPP is really a treaty because it’s an agreement between our government and a group of foreign governments over how they want to interact with each other.

And under the Constitution, treaties have to be approved by two-thirds of the Senate to go into effect.

But that wouldn’t need to happen if Congress gives President Obama fast-track powers.

If Congress grants President Obama fast-track powers, the TPP would instead just have to pass a simple majority vote to become law.

In other words, it would no longer have to pass the two-thirds approval muster required by the Constitution.

This is something everyone, whether they’re a Republican or Democrat, can agree is wrong.

The founders gave the Senate advice and consent powers for a reason, and there’s no reason to throw those powers out the window just to make a few corporate lobbyists happy.

So call your elected representative today to tell them that you support the Constitution, and therefore oppose fast-track powers for the TPP.

Link to Story

  • Confused About Secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership Issue? Watch This Democrat Make The Case For Why It Would Be Awful For America – ”Here are the numbers and the numbers do not lie … This is not free trade, this is fake trade.” Link to Story and 9-Minute Video

 

Posted in 2015-05-02, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off

My Fellow Americans: A Resolution To Preserve Our Constitution & Future. It Begins Here, Today

The Following Resolution Will Be Presented At Today’s Third Congressional District Democratic Convention In LaCrosse

 

A RESOLUTION OPPOSING THE FAST-TRACK OF TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP TRADE AGREEMENT

WHEREAS, The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a treaty that has been negotiated in secret and that Congress is now considering “fast-tracking;” and,

WHEREAS, Of the 29 chapters in the TPP agreement, only five cover traditional trade matters; and,

WHEREAS, The TPP’s “Investor State Dispute” clause results in the loss of our sovereign right to control natural resources, food safety, labor and healthcare ; and,

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Democratic Party of Wisconsin does hereby call upon its congressional delegation to oppose the “fast-track” of the TPP and to hold open public hearings on it.

 

By Dennis Brault
The Daily Call (5/2/15)

My fellow Americans, we must stop the “fast track” of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP ) treaty or it is game over for the people of the world. The corporations win. Our grievances will no longer matter.

“Fast-track” is a procedure where, President Obama is allowed to sign the TPP before Congress votes on it. Then the President writes an implementing bill” to make US laws conform to the hundreds of pages of TPP dictates. President Obama then sends this law to Congress, “where no amendments will be allowed and debate will be strictly limited”

The TPP is a treaty, which under the guise of a trade agreement, grants much of our sovereign national, state and local control, to a corporate dominated world court — made up of three-person international tribunals consisting of private corporate attorneys.

A corporate “New World Order” will arrive which cares not what sovereign nations or their people rule. The only rules that will matter are the decisions of the corporate world court.

Elizabeth Warren arguing against “fast track” recently told President Obama  that, “The American people should be allowed to weigh in on the facts of the TPP before Members of Congress are asked to voluntarily reduce our ability to amend, shape, or block any trade deal.” The resolution before the 3rd CD Democratic Convention today requests just that. Let the American people see, debate and let their representatives know what they think off the treaty and then and only then should Congress decide the merits of the TPP.

To stop the “fast track” of the TPP we must begin at a grass-root level. We need to make noise in our home communities. Talk to people you know and tell them what is happening. Ask them to help you stop it. Help them contact their representatives.

This is how we make our common demands heard. It is how politics must work. We need to stand together, left and right and middle, and say no to the “fast track” of the TPP.

Our Declaration of Independence proudly proclaimed that “Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” Don’t let your silence be your consent. Say NO to “fast track”

Call your representatives:

  • Congressman Ron Kind (202-225-5506)
  • Senator Tammy Baldwin (202-224-5653)
  • Senator Ron Johnson (202-224-5323)

◾️ To learn the basics about Fast Track “trade promotion authority” and why it is critical to the debate over the TPP watch this video. (21:12)

Posted in 2015-05-02, Newsletter | Tagged | Comments Off