Archive for April 29th, 2014

by lizard

Two days before Earth Day, Ochenski called out Steve Bullock for his secret logging deal, describing the criticism of Bullock’s move “well-deserved flak”. Indeed. From Ochenski’s column:

Gov. Steve Bullock recently announced his recommendation to the U.S. Department of Agriculture that some 5.1 million acres of Montana’s national forest lands be nominated for expedited logging under the new Farm Bill’s Sec. 8204.

However, when questioned as to the basis for his decision, which will affect virtually everyone in the forested regions of our state, it turns out there were only seven people involved, no public notice, and no opportunity for public review and comment. For a governor who campaigned on – and frequently boasts of – open government and transparency, it’s tough to align Bullock’s words with his actions on this important issue.

Steve Kelly, a former congressional candidate (and 4&20 regular) decided not to let Bullock’s lapse of principle go unchallenged:

A Bozeman man on Tuesday sued Gov. Steve Bullock and some top administration officials, accusing them of violating the state constitution by nominating 5.1 million acres of U.S. Forest Service land for logging without giving the public a chance to participate.

Steve Kelly, a Bozeman artist and former congressional candidate, filed the complaint in the Gallatin County District Court. He also named Bullock’s natural resources adviser Tim Baker, state Natural Resources and Conservation Director John Tubbs and state forester Bob Harrington in the lawsuit.

He contended that Bullock and the other officials violated the public’s right to know and the public’s right to participate in the Montana Constitution.

The idea that state politicians should be constrained by pesky documents like our state constitution is probably a few generations away from being expunged from our collective consciousness. The trade agreements currently being negotiated behind closed doors will install a legal framework essentially diluting the laws and regulations of nations until they become meaningless.

Not surprisingly, Democrats are once again selling out their base, especially labor. The Transatlantic Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership are trade agreements that will empower multinational corporations to supersede the interests of nation-states. Obviously if this was widely known by the public, it would be widely opposed.

Congress had been seeking “fast-track” status for these negotiations because they know the reaction will be overwhelmingly negative if the public actually finds out what is being negotiated. Now that awareness about this congressional fast-tracking has leaked, clearly there’s only one thing to do—re-brand fast-track:

The Democratic Party has responded to the resistance against ramming through new trade agreements by giving the process a new name. “Fast-track” has been rebranded as “smart-track” and, voilà, new packaging is supposed to make us forget the rotten hulk underneath the thin veneer.

Don’t be fooled. The Obama administration and its Senate enablers are nowhere near giving up on its two gigantic trade deals, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Because the stealthy “fast track” route — special rules speeding trade legislation through Congress with little opportunity for debate and no possibility of amendments — is the only way these corporate wish lists can be enacted, a “rebranding” is in order.

The new chair of the U.S. Senate’s Finance Committee, Oregon Democrat Ron Wyden, earlier this month, in a speech given to apparel-industry corporate executives, announced his intention to replace the “fast track” process with a “smart track” process. That is noteworthy because the Finance Committee has responsibility in the Senate for trade legislation. It also noteworthy because Senator Wyden has voted to approve the last five U.S. “free trade” agreements, going back to 2005.

Although the Transatlantic Partnership being negotiated between the United States and the European Union receives less attention than the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, neither has much chance of passing without special fast-track authority. Should Congress agree to grant the White House fast-track authority, the Obama administration would negotiate a deal and submit the text for approval to Congress under rules that would prohibit any amendments or changes, allow only a limited time for debate, and require a straight yes or no vote.

None other than the previous U.S. trade representative, Ron Kirk, said the Trans-Pacific Partnership has to be secret because if people knew what was in it, it would never pass. We should take him at his word.

How can Democrats convince people they are worth supporting when they repeatedly pull this kind of shit? I don’t know, but I’m sick and tired of reading about betrayal after betrayal.

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