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"You've got to be an optimist to be a Democrat, and you've got to be a humorist to stay one."

-- Will Rogers

For all the manufactured folderol at political conventions touting democracy, it is ironic how much the directors of the big shows want to keep under wraps. During the Democratic convention in July, numerous efforts were made by some delegates to hold up "No TPP" signs for the benefit of the global audience. "Move along, move along--nothing to see here," was the response of convention stagers, evidently not wanting the Trans-Pacific Partnership issue to embarrass the big stars in the political arena nor to give the issue feet. The Democratic National Committee's platform committee had, after all, already refused to find fault with the infamous trade agreement, lending even more distrust to their favored nominee.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement (5,540 pages) rose from the dark basement of closed-door governmental maneuvering and corporate negotiating into unwelcomed daylight by party platform wrangling. During President Obama's speech at the convention, one of Arkansas' delegates holding a "No TPP" sign was expelled and his credentials revoked.

Was this because the Arkansas delegates were near the stage and easily seen by the cameras? Was he removed because the message was viewed as politically impolite, since President Obama has nurtured this trade agreement along for years? Was the slogan of "Stronger Together" hanging on a thread of delicately balanced decorum that would have shattered if everyone in the room was not on the same page? Did the handlers of the messages and in charge of appearances not have even a modicum of political savvy? They needed at least enough to realize that expulsion of differing opinions during a, uh, democratic forum screamed of exclusion and suppression. Ah, sweet contrariness!

To the folks back home, what did the "No TPP" signs mean? I know when I bring up the subject, I get varying degrees of blank stares and no curiosity. If some delegates to a national convention were willing to risk slings and arrows from those orchestrating the appearance of happiness in the ranks, shouldn't people be asking what was that fire in their bellies all about? Ignorance can be blissful, but it can also be deadly. What I've learned about the TPP sends chills to the bone.

The Supreme Court's anointment of corporations as people in their "Citizens United" decision will look like child's play compared to the surrender of our country's policies and regulations that stand in the way or frustrate corporate profiteering. For years the specter of tightening corporate control over our lives has loomed on the horizon. Within this trade agreement, done in secret and withheld from public view or input until late last year, are the mechanisms that grease the wheels of corporate deals.

Search on the Internet for "How the TPP can rewrite US domestic laws." It can give you nightmares, which are best cured by sunshine and holding our presidential candidates' flip-flopping feet to the fire. At this point I should mention Republicans were once also falling all over themselves in support of the TPP, until trade got to be a hot potato with their sweetheart, Mr. Trump. Will Rogers had their ilk pegged as well, warning us, "That's one thing about Republican presidents. They never went in much for plans. They only had one plan. It says, 'Boys, my head is turned. Just get it while you can.'" However, the scale of avarice in both parties with the Wall Street bailout and the audacity of the TPP would have astounded even Rogers.

Juan Gonzalez, on DemocracyNow! (Nov. 6, 2015), reported after the trade document was finally released that the 12 countries in the partnership represent 40 percent of the world's economy. He summarized a few of the issues saying, "It will set common standards in areas including employment, food safety, the Internet, corporate governance, and intellectual property. It also establishes new tribunals under which corporations can sue governments for laws that affect their profits. The legal mechanism is called the investor-state dispute settlement, or ISDS. Activists around the world have opposed the TPP, warning it will benefit corporations at the expense of public health, the environment, free speech and labor rights."

Lori Wallach, whose interviews can be found at Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, gives the best explanations of why we must all do our homework on this one.

Please start learning why those convention signs were causing so much heartburn in this land of free speech.

Commentary on 08/09/2016

Print Headline: You, me and the TPP

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