THIS WEEKEND HAS BEEN MY CALL TO ACTION .......PLEASE ORGANIZE IN YOUR COMMUNITY.....GET THE WORD OUT WITH DEMOCRACY NOW NEWSLETTERS!
I encourage democratic voters to get rid of the neo-liberals rather than leave the democratic party. 80% of the democratic party is labor and justice......rebuild the democratic party by running and voting for labor and justice in all primaries!
Why do you think Maryland/Baltimore is silent while the rest of the country is fighting? Labor unions and justice leaders in Maryland are backing the bad guys rather than run their own people!
Labor Beat: Done with the Democrats
This last year of fighting against the full-spectrum assault on the working class in Chicago had a kind of 'taking stock' event on October 15, 2013. The Take...
The Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty is the complete opposite of 'free trade' The TPP would strip our constitutional rights, while offering no gains for the majority of Americans. It's a win for corporations 151 Democrats and 23 Republicans (pdf) in the House of Representatives signed letters to the US chief negotiators expressing opposition to a "fast track" procedure for voting on the proposed agreement. This procedure would limit the congressional role and debate over an agreement already negotiated and signed by the executive branch, which the Congress would have to vote up or down without amendments.
Most Americans couldn't tell you what "fast track" means, but if they knew what it entails they would certainly be against it. As one of the country's leading trade law experts and probably the foremost authority on Fast Track, Lori Wallach of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch, put it:
[Fast track] authorized executive-branch officials to set US policy on non-tariff, and indeed not-trade, issues in the context of 'trade' negotiations.
This means that fast track, which first began under Nixon in 1974, was not only a usurpation of the US Congress' constitutional authority "to regulate commerce with foreign nations".
It also gave the executive branch – which is generally much less accountable to public pressure than the Congress – a means of negating and pre-empting important legislation by our elected representatives. Laws to protect the environment, food safety, consumers (from monopoly pricing), and other public interest concerns can now be traded away in "trade" negotiations. And US law must be made to conform to the treaty.
How ironic that this massive transfer of power to special-interests such as giant pharmaceutical or financial corporations has been sold to the press as a means of holding "special interest" groups – who might oppose tariff reductions that harm them but are good for everyone else – in check.
But the TPP and its promoters are full to the brim with ironies. It is quite amazing that a treaty like the TPP can still be promoted as a "free trade" agreement when its most economically important provisions are the exact opposite of "free trade" – the expansion of protectionism.
Exhibit A was released by WikiLeaks last week: the latest draft of the "intellectual property" chapter of the agreement, one of 24 (out of 29) chapters that do not have to do with trade. This chapter has provisions that will make it easier for pharmaceutical companies to get patents, including in developing countries; have these patents for more years; and extend the ability of these companies to limit access to the scientific data that is necessary for other researchers to develop new medicines. And the United States is even pushing for provisions that would allow surgical procedures to be patented – provisions that may be currently against US law.
All of these measures will help raise the price of medicines and health care, which will strain public health systems and price some people out of the market for important medicines. It is interesting to see how much worse the TPP is than the WTO's Trips (Trade-Related Aspects of International Property Rights). This, too, was a massive rip-off of consumers and patients throughout the world, but after years of struggle by health advocates and public interest groups, some of its worst features were attenuated, and further consolidation of pharmaceutical companies' interests were blocked.
In case you were wondering why we had to get this information from WikiLeaks, it's because the draft negotiating texts are kept secret from the public. Even members of the US Congress and their staff have extremely limited access. Thus the much-maligned WikiLeaks has once again proven how valuable and justified are their efforts to bring transparency to important policy-making that is done in the darkness – whether it is "collateral murder", or other forms of life-threatening unaccountability.
One part of the TPP that shows why negotiators want to minimize public awareness of the agreement consists of provisions giving corporations the right – as is the case under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) – to directly sue governments for regulations that infringe upon their profits or potential profits. This, too, is much worse than the WTO, where a corporation has to convince its government to file a case against another government. These private enforcement actions – which if won collect from the defendant government – are judged by special tribunals outside of either country's judicial system, without the kinds of due process or openness that exists, for example, in the US legal system. A currently infamous example is the action by Lone Pine Resources, a Delaware-incorporated company, against the government of Quebec for its moratorium on fracking.
Perhaps less known than its other failings, the TPP doesn't even offer any economic gains for the majority of Americans who are being asked to sacrifice their constitutional rights. The gains from increased trade turn out to be so small that they are equivalent to a rounding error in the measurement of our GDP. The study most touted by proponents of the agreement, published by the Peterson Institute of International Economics, shows a cumulative increase of 0.13% of GDP by 2025. This would be trivial in any case; but the worse news is that, taking into account some of the unequalizing effects of the agreement – these treaties tend to redistribute income upwards – a Centre for Economic and Policy Research study showed that most Americans will actually lose because of the TPP.
US corporate interests are, rather obviously in this case, driving the agenda of the TPP. The agreement is in many ways a "plan B" after the last 12 years of WTO negotiations have stagnated – in large part due to considerable, well-organized public resistance in dozens of countries – and failed to achieve many of the goals of its corporate architects. But other branches of the US government have geostrategic goals as well. The world's would-be rulers also hope to separate the "bad kids" from the "good kids" among developing countries. It is no coincidence that in Latin America, the negotiating partners are Mexico, Chile, and Peru, and none of the leftist governments that now prevail in most of the region. And of course, a main goal of the agreement is to try and "isolate" China.
The Obama administration will no doubt appeal to some members of Congress on the basis of this neocolonial world view. But for Americans who are learning about the agreement, it is clear that the real "us against them" is not America against the more independent nations of the developing world, but TPP countries' citizens against a corporate swindle being negotiated behind their backs.
Despite US media trying to make it sound like Europeans are bowing to the demands of the TROIKA it is actually the people making the TROIKA back down. All across Europe the left are winning elections, from social democrats to socialists. The push by the 1% to unite Europe under this criminal TROIKA has resulted in citizens becoming more nationalistic and shouting against TPP and all attempts by the 1% to create a global governance!
TPP IS GLOBAL GOVERNANCE!!!!
THE SAME NEEDS TO HAPPEN IN THE US......WE HAVE STRENGTHENING ACTIVISM THAT NEEDS TO EXPLODE!!!!
Austerity is Wreaking Havoc, But the Left Can Unite to Build a Better Europe
Zealots for neoliberalism have created a humanitarian tragedy across the continent. It is our destiny to fight back
Alexis TsiprasThe Guardian (UK)November 27, 2013
Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras (r) with French Communist Party president Pierre Laurent, who also presides over the European Left, in Athens in March
More than 1,000 young people a day are joining the ranks of Europe's unemployed. In the past four years the army of jobless people across the continent has grown by more than 10 million.
In Greece, despite the government's claim that austerity has been a success, the 2014 budget imposes new public spending cuts and more job losses. The economic and humanitarian catastrophe is unprecedented in peacetime: 27% unemployment, 60% youth unemployment, a 25% shrinking of GDP, 40% reduction in family income. And, even after relentless pain, the debt-to-GDP ratio is almost 180%. It was only 120% in 2010 when the first austerity measures were imposed.
But, the human tragedy is not limited to Greece. Wages across Europe have been slashed and the welfare state scaled back at a rate unprecedented in the postwar era. Millions are struggling to pay their mortgages, electricity bills or medical and student debts. Europe's humanitarian crisis is unlike anything experienced in 60 years, with 120 million people enduring conditions of extreme difficulty, according to the Red Cross. This is not a natural phenomenon, but is, to use Nelson Mandela's words, "manmade" poverty.
Zealots for neoliberalism have turned ordinary people's lives upside down. Their structural adjustment policies serve a model of economic governance that transfers risk on to the shoulders of ordinary workers and the young. But the response of EU and national leaders is hopeless. The main EU policy initiative on youth unemployment ("youth guarantee") amounts, for example, to just €6bn or 0.6% of the EU budget for 2014-2020. Austerity, work precarity and the dynamics of the markets undermine the ability of low- and middle-wage earners to make a decent living. Household debt is extremely high in the Netherlands and Malta (almost 220% of GDP), while in Portugal, Spain and Italy many businesses are trapped in a spiral of debt.
Those European leaders who claim that the current medicine is a "success" are hypocrites. For millions of people, the European dream has turned into a nightmare. Eurobarometer surveys show the growing crisis of confidence in the EU and the catastrophic rise in the popularity of far-right parties. What should give us hope is the emergence of new solidarity groups and community-based movements. They can and will lead to greater democratic participation and control.
The European elections next May also provide an opportunity to start a real dialogue with the people – especially those who feel that no one cares for them – about a new basis for meaningful democracy and human dignity. It is time for Europe to stop the shocking breach of human rights by reshaping the state, restoring growth and creating high-quality, stable jobs with the protections that have historically contributed to the European social model.
Europe needs an anti-austerity and anti-recession front, a solidarity movement for its working people, north and south. This could deliver a pact for democracy, development and social justice. We must rebuild solidarity among the young, the workers, the pensioners and the unemployed to break down the new dividing line between Europe's rich and poor, the "mur d'argent" to use a historical phrase that has become topical.
I will be standing for the presidency of the European commission on behalf of the European Left party, and that decision is motivated by our desire to reunite Europe and rebuild it on a democratic and progressive basis. There is an alternative to the present crisis and it is our duty and destiny to fight for it.
Posted by Portside on December 7, 2013
First, please do not confuse a neo-liberal with a democrat. Neo-liberals and neo-cons work for global corporations and not you and I. O'Malley is a raging corporate pol and that is why all the policy he pushes hurts labor and justice, the democratic base. O'Malley is not placing all the cost of running the government on the middle/working class to help the poor. He is doing it because he has made corporate taxes disappear and public taxes income for corporations. When you dish so much tax breaks and subsidy you need to hit the people. That is what Erhlich did as well for the same reason.
O'Malley is not a democrat because he has the State of Maryland and City of Baltimore with such a level of fraud and corruption---MD is ranked at the bottom nationally for both---that none of the money tagged to help the poor make it there! That is not democratic, it is corporate and wealth, a republican platform. The opinion writer gets it right.....banana republic is the name for a state with suspended Rule of Law and no accountability.
The important thing for MD voters to recognize is that whether dem or rep, the system is crony. So, both sets of voters need to run MR or MS Smith and send them to Washington, the state house, and the city hall! Shake the bugs from the rug by running labor and justice in all democratic primaries!
The banana republic of Maryland [Commentary] The state's one-party Democratic rule breeds cronyism
By Mark Newgent 4:34 p.m. EST, December 5, 2013 BAltimore Sun
One-party rule breeds cronyism. While Maryland's one-party Democratic rulers, like Gov. Martin O'Malley, fancy themselves progressive angels above such things, the fact is, Maryland has devolved into an oligarchy.
Exhibit A: KO Public Affairs, the consulting firm run by Steve Kearney, Governor O'Malley's former communications director, and Damian O'Doherty, who was a top aide to former Baltimore County Executive Jim Smith, who is now the state's transportation secretary.
O'Doherty is a Maryland Democratic Party Trustee — a high dollar donor program for the party. At the New Hampshire Democratic Party's Jefferson Jackson Dinner, where Governor O'Malley spoke, the state party chair there thanked Messrs. Kearney and O'Doherty for their efforts in organizing the dinner.
KO is the poster child for Maryland Democratic crony capitalism. Their business model relies on getting their friends in government to take more dollars from taxpayers to give to their corporate clients.
To borrow a phrase from Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi, they are the vampire squid of Maryland politics.
Michael Beatty, developer of the controversial Harbor Point project hired KO to help assist in the approval of $107 million in city subsidies for his project. Beware the politician, who dares oppose KO, as Baltimore City Councilman Carl Stokes found out after opposing the subsidy. According to Baltimore Brew, Mr. Kearney told Stokes that he was "going after" the councilman in his next election campaign.
Harbor Point isn't the only taxpayer-funded, controversial project in which KO is involved. The firm served as consultants to the politically connected developers of the stalled State Center development, a $127-million taxpayer funded office project championed by Governor O'Malley and Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake. A city circuit court judge found the O'Malley administration violated state procurement laws in selecting the developers.
KO also founded the website Center Maryland, which purports to provide "news straight down the middle." In fact, Center Maryland is merely an aggregator site with opinion pieces by regular columnists like Don Fry, head of the Greater Baltimore Committee. Mr. Fry and the GBC were backers of the recent increase in the state's gas tax. Of course, Center Maryland did not disclose that KO led the "Broad Stripes Bright Stars" coalition to push for Governor O'Malley's gas tax increase.
KO was also a major player in the push to expand gambling in Maryland. During the 2012 special legislative session on expanded gambling, they blurred the line between being an advocacy firm and a media outlet. A KO employee was photographed on the floor of the Senate wearing a Center Maryland media credential during debate on the gambling expansion bill. KO was representing MGM Resorts, which is looking to build a casino at National Harbor. According to state campaign finance records KO received more than $400,000 from casino interests to advocate passage of the ballot question approving expanded gambling in last year's election.
Center Maryland also features a video podcast, "Politics Inside Out," hosted by Mr. O'Doherty and lobbyist Lisa Harris Jones, a close friend of Mayor Rawlings-Blake. Ms. Harris Jones is a principal in the lobbying firm of Harris Jones-Malone, with her husband Sean Malone. Mr. Malone is another former O'Malley aide from his time as Baltimore mayor and governor. State lobbying reports show Mr. Malone registered to lobby Maryland government on Mr. Kearney's behalf. Mr. Fry's GBC has also hired Ms. Harris Jones and Mr. Malone to lobby as well.
Marylanders can also thank the KO-Harris Jones-Malone crew for the state's speed camera boondoggle. Lobbying reports show ACS State and Local Solutions, now Xerox State and Local Solutions paid both Ms. Harris Jones and Mr. Malone to lobby the General Assembly for speed cameras in 2009, the year the legislature approved the system. In Baltimore County, KO helped create a supposed citizens organization to give the impression that residents wanted an expansion of the county's speed camera program.
These kinds of connections are rarely reported on, let alone condemned by, major media in the state.
It is no wonder Governor O'Malley could look at WBAL TV investigative reporter Jayne Miller with a straight face and tell her that the influx of campaign contributions he received from developers, contractors and unions involved in the construction of the Baltimore Hilton had nothing to do with his decision that union workers would build the hotel or what firms would be involved with the hotel.
Welcome to the banana republic of Maryland.