Talking Democracy on Oct. 12

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https://www.miamivalleysunday.com/2019/09/12/talking-democracy-on-oct-12/

TROY—Greg Coleridge, national outreach director for the non-partisan, grassroots coalition Move to Amend, will be the featured speaker at “Stand Up for Democracy,” 1 to 3 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 12, at the Lincoln Community Center, 110 Ash St. The program is hosted by We The People Miami County and Move to Amend.

Also speaking will be Mary Sue Gmeiner, affiliate coordinator of Greater Dayton Move to Amend. Representatives from area justice and peace organizations will be on hand to share information about their work and ways for people to get involved.

The program will begin with the screening of the 30-minute documentary “Legalize Democracy.” Gmeiner will explain how corporate power relates to the issues faced by the participating justice and peace organizations. Coleridge will discuss solutions to the problem of corporate dominance in politics and offer suggestions for restoring the voice of the people. A Q&A will follow.

In addition to his work with Move to Amend, Coleridge is a principal leader of the Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) and an advisor to the American Monetary Institute (AMI). He previously served on the national governing board of Common Cause. For more than three decades, Coleridge worked with the American Friends Service Committee in Ohio. He is the author of “Citizens over Corporations: A Brief History of Democracy in Ohio” and “Challenges to Freedom in the Future” and script writer for the documentary “CorpOrNation: The Story of Citizens and Corporations in Ohio.”

Move to Amend is a national, non-partisan grassroots affiliation of people and organizations working for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that makes clear constitutional rights belong to human beings only and money spent on elections is not a protected form of speech and shall be regulated. We The People Miami County is a local ad hoc working group in partnership with Move to Amend

For questions or more information about We the People Miami County, contact wethepeoplemiamicounty@gmail.com. For information on Move to Amend, visit movetoamend.org.

 

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Oppression Eclipses Democracy

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Just as the moon blocks out the sun during a total eclipse, oppression blocks out authentic democracy.

Racism, misogyny, homophobia, ableism and other forms of institutional and cultural oppression have been used throughout US history to impede self-expression, self-identification and many other forms of self-determination. Common strategies by oppressors have been to pit oppressed groups against one another (e.g. divide and conquer), blame the victim(s), and/or cooptation.

Oppression is social, economic and political. It’s taken the form in the past of slavery sanctioned by the Constitution, attempted genocide of native peoples by the U.S. government, lynchings, systemic rape, broken treaty promises, beatings, arrests “for being black,” voter suppression, internments, income disparity, deportations, media distortions, lack of physical access, and housing, education and employment discrimination. Too many of these still exist.

Authentic self-determination, individually or collectively, is difficult to achieve when these and any other form of oppression originate by individuals. It’s impossible when societal structures and institutions overtly or covertly initiative and defend them, which legitimize if not legalize individual oppressive acts.

Efforts to create real democracy must face oppression head on. Unlike natural eclipses that are beyond out control, oppression that eclipses democracy is human-created. Oppression is not inevitable or irreversible. It’s not “God’s will.” Oppression must be resisted and replaced by structures and actions that create justice and peace.

While appropriate reactions to natural eclipses should be to safely watch with wonder and awe, passive spectating to human oppression is not an option. Being active change-agents, done best with others in social movements seeking and end to oppression and the creation of real self-determination (for the very first time) is the only responsible response.

THIS IS WHAT DEMOCRACY IN OHIO LOOKS LIKE! Ohio’s Democratic/Self-Determination “Infrastructure”

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We are pleased to present our January, 2017 updated edition.

To read the full report, go to: https://www.afsc.org/sites/afsc.civicactions.net/files/documents/DemocraticInfrastructure.pdf

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From the Introduction…

From the local to the global, the ability of people to govern themselves is under assault, which will intensify over the next four years. Some of the major sources of this attack are:

• Business corporations looking to make huge profits by converting what once had been “public” to “private” (“privatization,“ though a more descriptive term would be “corporatization”), including traditional public assets like water and sewer systems, roads, police and fire protection, airports, hospitals, and schools.

• Individuals looking to increase their power, status, and/or privileges by concentrating decision-making from many hands (We the People and government) to few (their own).

• A culture that reinforces notions that public policies are too complicated for ordinary people to understand (thus leaving policy making to experts); that distracts public attention away from self-determination toward the trivial and inane; that worships “the market” as the route to financial and economic salvation which is not to be regulated or controlled; that define certain arenas (economic in particular) as outside the scope of public input; that continues to erase memory of any/all historical examples of citizen control and definition of their lives; that equates anything that is “public” as being inefficient, wasteful, decrepit, and dangerous and anything “private” as efficient, modern and safe; and that keeps people separated to learn from one another and organize to (re)assert meaningful changes.

• Continual legal and constitutional definitions that further “enclose” and redefine “public” arenas as other “p” words: “private,” “property,” “proprietary,” “privileged” — and thus beyond the reach of public planning, public shaping, and public evaluation.

• A national government that under the guise of “terrorism” has given itself permission to stifle dissent, intimidate dissenters, and interrupt efforts of self-determination.

But there is another side to this – a democratic/self-determination culture or “infrastructure.” Alternatives to corporations, corporate governance and elite control exist in our communities and across the state.

Scores of documents, policies, institutions, structures and groups reflecting inclusiveness are in place – examples where those who are affected by decisions and policies have a legitimate role in the shaping and making of those decisions… or could if we made the effort. They are where We the People have a voice… or could have a real voice if we merely flexed our self-determination muscles…

Call in TODAY to Congress. Vote NO on the TPP

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While candidates are furiously campaigning to be elected this November, a much quieter but just as furious campaign is being waged to pressure Congress to pass the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) in the lame-duck session just after the election, but before the new Congress convenes next January.

Not very democratic is it?

Neither is the TPP and its profoundly undemocratic Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision giving giant corporations the power to challenge national laws, rules and regulations protecting workers, consumers, communities and the environment that they claim has harmed their ability to maximize profits.

Today, Wednesday September 14, is a national call-in day opposing the TPP. Call toll free 1-888-659-7351 and tell your Congressperson and Senators Rob Portman and Sherrod Brown to vote NO on the TPP. Global Trade Watch and the Citizens Trade Campaign are among the major organizers of this action.

The TPP is terribly misnamed. It’s not ultimately about trade (be it free or fair). It’s about corporate global rule.

Despite earlier hopes, the TPP is not dead. The Obama Administration is doing the bidding of hundreds of transnational corporations that had a seat at the table when the TPP was first negotiated by pressuring Congressional members to pass the TPP during the lame duck Congress.

The most dangerous provision of the TPP is the ISDS, which hijacks democratic self-determination. A detailed and devastating 4-part investigation into the ISDS is the Global Super Court: A BuzzFeed News Investigation. You don’t have to read much before concluding the ISDS is lethal to national sovereignty, workers rights, consumer protection and environmental sustainability.

AFSC has produced an earlier background piece on the TPP:
Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement – Background Information
http://afsc.org/sites/afsc.civicactions.net/files/documents/AFSC%20Trans%20Pacific%20Partnership.pdf

So, please call-in today. Call toll free 1-888-659-7351 and tell your Congressperson and Senators to vote NO on the TPP.

Not sure who your Congressperson is? Go to http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Also, if you’re on Twitter, post this message right now to all your followers:
It’s National #StopTPP Call-in Day: Click here to call yr member of Congress & demand he/she commit to oppose #TPP! http://thndr.me/iU3NrV

Thank you.

Can the US Military Chief Save the TPP Sinking Ship?

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Ashton Carter is the relatively new U.S. Secretary of Defense. He delivered a speech April 6 on “the next phase” of the U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region.

Much of his speech at the McCain Institute at Arizona State University focused on topics you might expect – military weaponry, strategy, partnerships and alliances.

What was completely unexpected were his comments on the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)  – the proposed so-called “trade” agreement between the US and 11 other Pacific rim nations that its advocates assert would result in the increased free flow of goods and services, more jobs, greater opportunities, higher growth and improved standard of living in the region.

Carter said:

“In fact, you may not expect to hear this from a Secretary of Defense, but in terms of our rebalance in the broadest sense, passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier.”
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“It would deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and underscore our lasting commitment to the Asia-Pacific,” he continued. “And it would help us promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.”

The Obama administration must clearly be worried to float out the U.S.’ main military man to advocate for the TPP. They realize their efforts up to now to pass the TPP through the process of deliberately suppressing its contents and trying to ram it through Congress by first passing a “Fast Track” bill that would limit debate and prohibit amendments on any proposed so called trade deal that would come before it may have, at least, temporarily run aground – just like an aircraft carrier in shallow waters.

Traditional lobbying by the President and Congressional TPP supporters (including Republican leaders — to demonstrate its bipartisan nature) apparently haven’t yet yielded enough converts on both sides of the political aisle to pass Fast Track and the TPP on their own.

Thus, the administration is now playing the patriotic card by linking the deal to “defense” – which often produces little questioning when it comes to military spending by Congresspersons who don’t want to appear soft on defense.

Placing the TPP in the same security boat as a basic naval weapon system like an aircraft carrier simply underscores to undecided Congresspersons how important the so-called “trade” pact is to the head of the nation’s military.

It’s very effective imaginary…and very much needed by TPP promoters in light of recent revelations that threaten to sink the so called trade deal that’s not mainly about trade.

Examining the TPP primarily through the lens of trade, be it free or fair, is a distraction.

The TPP isn’t primarily about trade. It’s about democracy, self-determination, governance.

Only five of the proposed agreement’s 29 chapters, or 17%, deal with traditional trade issues. Other chapters address topics like outsourcing jobs to other nations, the environment, food safety, the Internet, financial services and more.

TPP negotiations have been kept secret for five years – secret, that is from the public, media, even federal elected officials. Not so for corporate representatives. More than 500 official corporate “trade advisors” have helped shape the document. Consumers, farmers, workers and environmentalists aren’t seated at the negotiating table. The reason for its secrecy can’t be to keep its provisions remain hidden from the U.S.’ trading competitors since those 11 other nations are part of the negotiations. If the TPP is so positive, then let’s see its full text.

The recent leak of a portion of the TPP negotiations revealed its profoundly undemocratic provisions. The TPP would establish a supra-national court or tribunal where foreign corporation can sue nation states over any democratically enacted law, rule or regulation protecting consumers, workers, communities and the environment and receive taxpayer compensation for losses of “expected future profits.” These “investor-state dispute settlement” (ISDS) tribunals would supersede local, state and federal court systems. How democratic is this? Exactly how does this “reflect our interests and our values”?

It doesn’t. Not at all. Just the opposite, in fact.

No wonder the TPP has been kept secret by its promoters. No wonder why its promoters are now pushing for a Fast track bill in Congress (with the sanitized name of “Trade Promotion Authority”). And no wonder the first of what may be many unexpected spokespersons like the Pentagon’s Ash Carter are trying to keep the TPP from capsizing – hoping their voices will sway undecided Congresspersons.

One wonders who may be next pitching the accord. Michael Jordan? Clint Eastwood? Miss America? Maybe Flo, who represents an insurance company in commercials?

Don’t be distracted. The TPP is ultimately about who (or what) should have the ultimate authority to made governing decisions in our county: We the People or transnational corporations.

TPP advocates are reaching. It’s our job to keep up the pressure. No single issue is more threatening to what remains of political self-determination (as little as that might be thanks to corporate personhood and money as speech) as the TPP. Nevertheless, we still have a chance, and a good chance, to work to create real democracy at the nation-state level. Trying to influence unelected and non-publicly accountable members of international tribunals or panels empowered by the TPP, however, will be futile.

The TPP is not akin to aircraft carriers. It has certainly nothing to do with “reflecting our interests and values” – assuming those include worker justice, consumer safety, environmental protection, peace, and self-determination.

Now’s the time to weigh in with our U.S. Senators and Representative. The Fast Track bill may be introduced in Congress as early as Monday, April 13.

Call, write, email.  Take your democratic responsibility as a citizen seriously.

Time to derail Fast Track and pull the plug on the TPP.