Progressive Calendar 05.13.15 /3
From: David Shove (
Date: Wed, 13 May 2015 11:30:36 -0700 (PDT)

1. Deirdre Fulton  - Victory for Grassroots as Fast Track Goes Down in
Crucial Senate Vote
2. Nadia Prupis    - Secrecy Over TPP Fuels Growing Opposition in Congress
3. Scott Galindez - Seeds Planted for Bernie Sanders-Led Grassroots
4. James Bovard  - Will “Vagina Voters” Devour Democracy?
5. ed                  - Hillary’s New Campaign Song

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Victory for Grassroots as Fast Track Goes Down in Crucial Senate Vote
byDeirdre Fulton, staff writer
Published on Tuesday, May 12, 2015
byCommon Dreams

'We know the forces pushing the job-killing TPP won't stop here, and they
should know, neither will we,' says Democracy for America

In what was immediately heralded as a victory for the grassroots, Senate
Democrats on Tuesday stymied President Barack Obama's corporate-driven
trade agenda by voting to prevent the chamber from taking up Fast Track

According to news reports, a cloture motion to cut off a filibuster and
proceed to debate fell short of the 60 votes necessary to pass. Sen. Tom
Carper, of Delaware, was the only Democrat to vote yes.

Civil society groups lauded Tuesday's outcome and what it could mean for
future trade votes.

"The Fast Track train went off the rails today," cheered Lori Wallach,
director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch division. "The U.S. Senate
vote was supposed to generate momentum for Fast Track in the U.S. House of
Representatives, where it's in deep trouble, with almost every House
Democrats and a significant bloc of GOP opposing it."

Still, now is not the time for the grassroots to become complacent, warned
Democracy for America executive director Charles Chamberlain in a statement
released just after the vote.

"While we celebrate today's failed Fast Track vote for the job-killing
Trans-Pacific Partnership, the hundreds of thousands of grassroots
activists who have united behind Senators Warren, Brown and Sanders to
defeat the TPP will not rest until it's dead, buried, and covered with
six-inches of concrete," Chamberlain said. "Today, the army of corporate
executives and industry lobbyists who wrote the Trans-Pacific Partnership
by and for themselves failed to secure support for the Fast Track
legislation they know they need to ram their bad trade deal through

However, he added, "We know the forces pushing the job-killing TPP won't
stop here, and they should know, neither will we."

Other Fast Track opponents expressed similar sentiments on Twitter:

And Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who has been a vocal opponent of Fast
Track and gave a stirring speech on the Senate floor prior to the vote on
Tuesday, added: "The Senate vote today was an important first victory in
what will be a long battle."

"Today was a good step forward," he said, "but much more needs to be done."


[Progressive opposition to Fast Track, and the dangerous trade deals the
authority is designed to promote, continues to mount both on and off
Capitol Hill. (Photo: UFCW International Union/flickr/cc)] Progressive
opposition to Fast Track, and the dangerous trade deals the authority is
designed to promote, continues to mount both on and off Capitol Hill.
(Photo: UFCW International Union/flickr/cc)

Amid convoluted political machinations and ever-mounting progressive
opposition, the U.S. Senate is expected to vote Tuesday on a motion to move
forward with Fast Track authority, which would for six years help ram
corporate-friendly trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)
through Congress.

The vote is likely to be very close—"a cliffhanger," according to Politico;
"a knife-edge vote," says Reuters; "a squeaker," as per the Washington
Post's Dana Milbank.

"Today, every United States Senator has a decision to make: will they stand
with the overwhelming majority of their constituents who oppose the
dangerous secrecy inherent in the Fast Track / Trade Promotion Authority
process, or will they bow down to the White House and the incumbent
industries who have been spending millions lobbying to protect their power?"
—Evan Greer, Fight for the Future

Proponents in the Senate must secure 60 votes on Tuesday to begin debate on
Fast Track, or Trade Promotion Authority. While the vote is procedural, the
Wall Street Journal notes that it "could indicate where members stand" on
the authority, so fervently sought by President Barack Obama and his
Cabinet, which would pave the way for passage of the 12-nation TPP.

Reuters notes, "Failure would send a worrying signal about the level of
support for Fast Track, which unions, environmental and consumer groups
strongly oppose, as do some conservatives."

"Even if the free-traders get the required 60 votes, supporters won’t have
momentum going into a vote in the House, where the legislation faces a
tougher slog," Milbank added.

As the Washington Post reports, the "vast majority of the 245 House
Republicans are expected to support the president, leaving White House
officials to find possibly 25 to 30 Democratic votes. According to one
Democratic estimate provided Monday, there are just 17 House Democrats so
far supporting [Fast Track]."

According to news reports, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid has pledged to
block the trade bill until senators agree to a way forward on highway and
surveillance bills, both of which face end-of-the-month deadlines.

In addition, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the top Democrat on the Senate
Finance Committee who negotiated the details of the Fast Track bill
introduced last month, has told his colleagues that he will not support
starting the debate unless Republicans promise to also move forward with
two other trade measures: a customs enforcement bill that would also crack
down on currency manipulation and the African Growth and Opportunity Act
that provides trade preferences to sub-Saharan African countries.

According to Politico, "Wyden’s vote is being watched closely by both
Democrats and Republicans as the pivotal yes or no that will determine
whether work on the trade bill can begin now or must wait until June."

"If Wyden votes no, he may take enough pro-trade Democrats with him to sink
Tuesday’s vote," write Politico journalists Burgess Everett and Manu Raju.
"That possibility has boosted the anti-trade faction of the Democratic
Party, which is now predicting that without [Senate Majority Leader Mitch]
McConnell’s intervention the vote on Tuesday will fail."

The Post reports that Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.) said he had
"no indication" that Republican leaders would agree to combine the various
bills in such a way that would pass muster with enough Democrats to proceed.

"I would say, at this point, most Democrats are inclined to vote no unless
they know what they're voting for," he said.

However, "McConnell faces a delicate calculus," the Wall Street Journal
adds, because placating Senate Democrats by including one or all of the
additional provisions "could create opposition among Republicans who
support the bill, thus making it harder to line up enough support to ensure

Of course, such political horse-trading does little to address the
fundamental problems with Fast Track or the dangerous trade deals the
authority is designed to promote, which progressive groups were quick to
underscore on Tuesday.

In a statement, Evan Greer of the digital rights group Fight for the Future
declared: "Today, every United States Senator has a decision to make: will
they stand with the overwhelming majority of their constituents who oppose
the dangerous secrecy inherent in the Fast Track / Trade Promotion
Authority process, or will they bow down to the White House and the
incumbent industries who have been spending millions lobbying to protect
their power?"

Labor groups also escalated their rhetoric. "America is in an abusive
relationship with trade-obsessed politicians and corporations," Leo W.
Gerard, United Steelworkers international president, wrote in a blog post
published Tuesday. "Despite their long history of battering the U.S. middle
class with bad trade deal after bad trade deal, these lawmakers and CEOs
contend workers should believe that their new proposal, the Trans-Pacific
Partnership (TPP), will be different."

"Simply put: a vote for Fast Track is a vote to accelerate the inherently
environmentally dangerous practice of fracking for natural gas."
—Wenonah Hauter, Food & Water Watch

And in an interview with Greg Sargent of the Washington Post published
Monday, Sen. Elizabeth Warren continued her verbal sparring with Obama,
warning that passing Fast Track would have long-term implications. Because
Trade Promotion Authority would apply for six years, for example, the next
president could potentially "negotiate a trade deal that undercuts Dodd
Frank," Warren said, referring to the financial reform bill passed in the
wake of the Great Recession.

As for the TPP's controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement provision,
which she has repeatedly criticized, Warren said it "imposes a financial
penalty, which has caused countries to change their regulations…[ISDS
mechanisms] never had the authority to override regulations. What they had
was the authority to impose a monetary penalty directly against the
government and its taxpayers. That’s the point at which governments have
backed up and said, 'we can’t afford this, we’ll just change the law'."

Meanwhile, in the House, environmental and public health groups are
condemning Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) for coming out in support of Fast
Track in a joint op-ed with Wyden published last month in The Oregonian. On
Tuesday, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace began
running television advertisements in Portland, Ore. and Washington, D.C.
blasting Blumenauer as "wrong on trade."

The groups point to provisions in the TPP and other so-called "free trade"
deals that would require the Department of Energy to automatically approve
natural gas exports to countries included in the pact—which they say would
lead to more fracking around the U.S.

"Simply put: a vote for Fast Track is a vote to accelerate the inherently
environmentally dangerous practice of fracking for natural gas," said
Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch. In helping pass
the measure through the House Ways and Means Committee, she continued,
"Rep. Blumenauer voted to give foreign oil and gas companies powerful new
trade litigation tools to go after the growing grassroots movement to ban
fracking in statehouses, county seats and municipalities across the

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Secrecy Over TPP Fuels Growing Opposition in Congress
byNadia Prupis
staff writer common dreams

More and more lawmakers joining opposition to corporate-friendly trade deal
over lack of transparency

The back-room push for the corporate-friendly Trans-Pacific Partnership
(TPP) trade pact may be backfiring on its supporters, as more and more
lawmakers in U.S. Congress drop their interest in the deal over its extreme

Only members of the House and Senate are currently allowed to view the text
of the deal, and even they are forbidden from discussing what it contains.
As a new report from Politico published Monday details, "If you’re a member
who wants to read the text, you’ve got to go to a room in the basement of
the Capitol Visitor Center and be handed it one section at a time, watched
over as you read, and forced to hand over any notes you make before

As for the public, a few unauthorized leaks of the text have previewed a
deal that would "dramatically expand the power of corporations to use
closed-door tribunals to challenge—and supersede—domestic laws, including
environmental, labor, and public health, and other protections."

The lack of transparency over the trade agenda has become a central
argument for a growing number of opponents, who see the deal as a corporate
power grab and "feel they are being treated with disrespect and
condescension," as Politico's Edward-Isaac Dovere explains.

Among those critics is Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Texas), who points out that
"the cover sheets of the trade documents in that basement room are marked
only 'confidential document' and note they’re able to be transmitted over
unsecured email and fax—but for some reason are still restricted to members
of Congress."

"We know when we're being suckered," Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Florida) told
Politico on Monday. "It's not only condescending, it's misleading."

One of the most vocal opponents of the TPP is Sen. Elizabeth Warren
(D-Mass.), who, along with Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH), wrote a letter (pdf)
to President Barack Obama last week demanding the public release of the
deal's full text.

"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," Warren and Brown wrote.

In March, Obama said TPP opponents were being "dishonest" in calling the
agenda a "secret deal." But, as Huffington Post senior political economy
reporter Zach Carter wrote last week, the Warren-Brown letter suggests
"that Obama's trade transparency record is worse than that of former
President George W. Bush. They note that Bush published the full
negotiation texts of a major free trade deal with Latin America several
months before Congress had to vote on giving the deal fast track benefits.
The Obama administration has resisted calls to follow suit with TPP."

Warren and Brown conclude their letter:

    We understand that people may disagree about the risks and benefits
associated with a massive trade deal. We respectfully suggest 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.

TPP critics are laying at least part of the blame on U.S. Trade
Representative Mike Froman, who is leading classified briefings on the pact
with members of Congress. "The access to information is totally at the whim
of Ambassador Froman," Doggett told Politico. "The more people hear
Ambassador Froman but feel they get less than candid and accurate answers,
I think it loses votes for them.”

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Seeds Planted for Bernie Sanders-Led Grassroots Revolution
By Scott Galindez,
Reader Supported News12 May 15

Within 24 hours of making his presidential bid official, Senator Bernie
Sanders raised $1.5 million dollars from 35,000 donors. To put this in
perspective, he raised more money than Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and
maybe Hillary Clinton. Clinton did not release her first day totals.
“Bernie,” as his supporters call him, out-raised every campaign that
reported their first day totals. The average contribution to his campaign
was $43.54.

On CBS’s Face the Nation, Sanders noted that, since he announced his
candidacy at the end of April, 200 thousand people have pledged to
volunteer and he has received nearly 90,000 donations. “I don’t think we’re
going to outspend Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush or anybody else, but I think
we are going to raise the kinds of money we need to run a strong and
winning campaign,” said Sanders.

While touring the country on his “listening tour,” Sanders repeatedly said
that he would not run if he didn’t think enough support was there for him
to run an effective campaign.

Whenever he talks about his agenda, he says no president could achieve it
without millions of people backing him in a grassroots revolution. It’s
early in the campaign, but so far signs are the revolution he called for is
starting to take shape.

Last Wednesday over 250 activists from around the country came together on
a conference call to kick off a new grassroots organization called “People
for Bernie Sanders.” People on the call were not your typical Democratic
Party activists. They were veteran organizers who don’t generally get
involved in electoral politics. Many came from the Occupy movement and
would probably be organizing protests in candidates’ offices if a candidate
hadn’t emerged that they could believe in. I’m not saying these folks have
ruled out a protest or two, but for now they are jumping into the electoral
arena. One thing that separates them from other candidates’ supporters is
they are organizing outside of the official campaign. There won’t be a top
down agenda that they all have to adhere to.  Local groups are encouraged
to “be the campaign.”

Charles Lenchner, one of the conveners of “People for Bernie Sanders”
explained it this way: “We want supporters of Bernie Sanders to build a
broad movement to elect him and ‘just do it’; this is not the same as
waiting for some entity (or email list) to give you specific instructions.
Right now, at this moment, there simply is no Bernie campaign where most
voters reside; the best antidote is for everyone to collectively bootstrap
what they can. This is our advantage to counter the money power of the
corporate candidates.” Lenchner said they are in communication with the
campaign and want to coordinate their activities.

Shana East, the regional director for People for Bernie summed it up this
way: “A grassroots movement is a homegrown movement. It’s from the bottom
up, not top down. So, we don’t wait for someone in Washington D.C. to allow
us to do something. We decide on a local level what needs to be done and
then we do it. We call this a Do-ocracy!”

East, who said the core group involved in People for Bernie has been so
busy that many have not slept in a week, helped organize 2 meetups already
in Chicago. The first one drew 75 people with only one day’s notice. She
described the events as very passionate, with people getting involved in
the discussion and preparing to work. Activists around the country are
organizing meetups in their communities.

One common theme at the meetups has been expressed in statements like Jake
Kaufman’s in Chicago, who said, “This is my first campaign. because
Bernie’s the first candidate I’ve ever been inspired by.”

People for Bernie is not the only grassroots effort working outside the
official campaign. Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) launched "Run
Bernie Run” as far back as August, even before MoveOn launched "Run Warren
Run.” Vermont Today reported in August: “If Bernie does run, we can
definitely get resources to help him move forward in states like Iowa and
New Hampshire,” said Conor Boylan, co-director of the Progressive Democrats
of America. “We are going to continue to keep an eye on him because our
base loves him; he is creating a lot of buzz.”

On Facebook there are multiple pages in many states with thousands of
followers. One group, Bernie Sanders for President 2016, is doing their
best to maintain a list of all the Facebook pages and even has formed a
private group of administrators from the various pages to coordinate

With the Sanders campaign just getting started, the early response has to
be encouraging. While the pundits continue to describe the race for the
Democratic Party nomination as a “coronation” for Hillary Clinton, Sanders
supporters are not going to concede. They know they have an uphill fight,
but are a committed bunch. They come from movements that understand
struggle. Bernie himself acknowledges that change does not come without a
fight. He does however see a path to victory: “There is, in my view,
massive dissatisfaction in this country today with corporate establishment
and the greed of corporate America and the incredibly unequal distribution
of wealth and income which currently exists.” Sanders also said his record
on this issue over the past 25 years shows that he has led the way in
standing up for working families and taking on “the billionaire class,”
Wall Street, private insurance companies, and drug companies.

Sanders always concludes his stump speech by reminding people that
progressives have been winning on many fronts. He gives examples ranging
from an African American being elected president to the acceptance of gay
marriage. He says that 30 years ago nobody would have believed these things

Convincing people he can win is the biggest obstacle Bernie and his
supporters have. Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton was the presumptive
nominee. She wasn’t polling as strongly as this time, but with seasoned
candidates like John Edwards and Joe Biden in the race, voters had options
they were familiar with. Before Barack Obama won Iowa, the polls showed
Hillary Clinton as the top choice of African Americans. They didn’t believe
America was ready for a black man to win. After Iowa, they became
believers. So it is possible to overcome the “I love Bernie but he just
can’t win” mindset.

If the American people vote for the candidate who best represents their
interests, they will vote for Bernie Sande

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Has Hillary Finally Found Her Brand?
Will “Vagina Voters” Devour Democracy?

Wear gloves on Election Day!

“Fat-O-Sphere” author Kate Harding announced plans to “vote with my vagina”
for Hillary Clinton. Harding said her voting was guided in part by her
difficult menstrual cycles. I wonder who she would vote for if she was
suffering from hemorrhoids. (Coincidentally, Mike Huckabee entered the
presidential race last week.)

According to her life story in the Dame Magazine article, Harding’s
political epiphany was also shaped by a male gynecologist who she felt was
insufficiently sympathetic to her south-side discomfort. But, to prove that
she is not a man-hater, she stresses: “I would absolutely not prefer the
Sarah Palin of gynecologists over the Barack Obama of gynecologists, for
perfectly obvious reasons.” Personally, I’ve always preferred to keep all
politicians away from my private parts. Anyone who thinks that Congress can
be trusted with such matters should look at the sordid history of the TSA.

Rather than fresh insights on Leviathan and liberty, Harding rests her
political philosophy on a self-evident truth unmentioned in the Declaration
of Independence: “There has never been a president who knows what it’s like
to menstruate.”

Harding declares that, even if she did not like Hillary’s positions, “I
would probably still vote for her just because she’s a woman.” She ends her
piece with a call for women to send their genitalia to the ramparts: “I
refuse to listen to anyone who warns against “vagina voting,” when I’m 40
years old and have still never had the opportunity to vote with my damned
vagina in a general election. American women have been [menstrual] bleeding
for over 200 years while men tell us it’s no big deal, and a lot of us have
arrived at the point where we just want someone with a visceral, not
abstract, concept of what that means.”

So does Harding believe that, if Hillary is elected, no woman will ever
suffer a painful period again? Instead of the 1928 presidential campaign
promise of “a chicken in every pot,” will Hillary pledge to banish ragtime
blues from the land?

Spiked Online editor Brendan O’Neill scoffed at the would-be vagina
stampede for Hillary at
“This embrace of the gender card by Clinton and her cronies, this move from
thinking with their heads to voting with their vaginas, is being celebrated
as a great leap forward. It’s nothing of the sort. It merely confirms the
speedy and terrifying shrinking of the political sphere in recent years,
with the abstract being elbowed aside by the emotional, and the old focus
on ideas and values now playing a very quiet second fiddle to an obsession
with identity.”
Would a female leader likely be less bellicose than recent male presidents?
After the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Hillary Clinton only resumed
talking to her husband when she phoned him and urged him in the strongest
terms to begin bombing Serbia; the next day, Bill Clinton announced that
the United States had a “moral imperative” to stop Serbia’s Milosevic.
Counterpunch co-founder Alexander Cockburn observed in 1999 in the Los
Angeles Times: “It’s scarcely surprising that Hillary would have urged
President Clinton to drop cluster bombs on the Serbs to defend ‘our way of
life.’ The first lady is a social engineer. She believes in therapeutic
policing and the duty of the state to impose such policing. War is more
social engineering, ‘fixitry’ via high explosive, social therapy via cruise
missile… As a tough therapeutic cop, she does not shy away from the most
abrupt expression of the therapy: the death penalty.” In the Obama
administration, Hillary, Samantha Powers, and Susan Rice have been among
the biggest warmongers – with an unquenchable thirst to bomb Libya, Syria,
and other nations.

What is the male equivalent of “vagina voters”? Dickheads? On the bright
side, maybe one of Hillary’s zealots will coin a catchy vagina-oriented
version of the “hope and change” campaign promise.

Perhaps the greatest folly of “vagina voting” is the presumption that a
candidate’s gender is more important than the fact that they are a
politician. Politicians have been renowned for deceit for hundreds of
years. Hillary, like most of the Republican males in the race, has a long
record of brazen deceit. Politicians as a class conspire against the rights
and liberties of citizens. And there is no evidence that certain genitalia
immunizes a person against Powerlust.

James Bovard is the author of Public Policy Hooligan, Attention Deficit
Democracy, The Bush Betrayal, Terrorism and Tyranny, and other books. More
info at; on Twitter @jimbovard

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Hillary’s New Campaign Song

Nothing could be finer
Than to vote for my vagina
In the morning.


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