The hosts of the Homeland Security Congress were getting anxious. It was ten minutes past the time former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell was scheduled to begin his big announcement. The defense contractors, law enforcement officials and assorted military personnel in the audience were starting to fidget.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Mr. Powell is nearly here,” announced the conference host, a woman named Barbara wearing a bright red power suit. “Please sit tight for another few minutes—meet your neighbor! And get ready for what I hear will be an extremely interesting announcement about our nation’s new energy plan.” There was a murmur of forbearing chuckles.
“So really, how long do we think he’ll be?” whispered another of the conference organizers, a muscular woman named Doreen to a man known to her as “Mike Lee.” Like all the conference people, Doreen thought Mike was a higher-up at the eminent public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.
“Well, I just got some really good news,” answered Mike. “Powell’s unfortunately still a half hour away, but he’s got a colleague at the Department of Energy, a guy named Benedict Waterman. He’ll be here in just five minutes. He’ll be accompanied by Bana Slowhorse from the Bureau of Indian Affairs, who I’ve heard puts on an amazing show.”
In fact, Mike had no idea whatsoever where Colin Powell was at this moment; far from being Powell’s liaison from Burson-Marsteller, “Mike Lee” was actually Mike Bonanno from the Yes Men, a group known for impersonating government and corporate officials.
But Mike also had no idea where “Waterman” and “Slowhorse” were. And that was not as planned. “Waterman” was actually Yes Man Andy Bichlbaum, and “Slowhorse” was actually a Native American Tar Sands activist named Gitz Crazyboy.
Finally, in walked Andy and Gitz. But what was that on Andy’s head?
Andy’s wig was supposed to look like the strange ’70s hair of his supposed boss, Department of Energy head Ernesto Muniz. But it had been delivered at 7 a.m. that morning by RuPaul’s wigmaker, who had begun work on it after a drag show ending at 4 a.m.
Doreen turned to Mike. “Wig,” she mouthed, pointing to her head.
“He’s a scientist,” Mike offered. “They don’t know much about hair.”
“That’s not hair,” Doreen answered.
Mike’s heart sank. For the second time in 24 hours, he was certain the jig was up.
The day before, April 30, we were driving from New York to Washington, D.C., headed for the Homeland Security Congress, a conference run by a subsidiary of Northrop Grumman for businesses interested in securing government contracts related to homeland security. Mike had wrangled a speaking spot for Colin Powell by posing as Powell’s agent.
We knew Powell would never arrive. But in his place would be his “collaborators” from the Department of Energy (Andy) and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (Gitz). They would announce a U.S. government plan to convert the entire country to renewable energy by 2030, dismantling fossil fuel companies in the process and handing ownership of renewable energy production directly to individuals—and to Native American tribes, whose reservations happened to be in some of the windiest and sunniest areas in the United States. The profits would serve as reparations for genocide. The plan was a slightly more radical version of several actual proposals from environmental organizations, including The Solutions Project plans for all 50 states to convert to 100 percent renewable energy.
The Yes Men chose the Homeland Security Congress as our audience for this plan precisely because they were not our people. Many of them would be bonafide, gun-loving, flag-toting, rightwing patriots. Our goal was to see if we could promote this revolutionary (but entirely feasible) plan to people on the exact opposite end of the political spectrum. If we could get even those on the “Dark Side” to embrace a plan to end fossil fuels and democratize energy, it would confirm our suspicions that there’s only one force on Earth that’s holding us back from a sane future: the fossil fuel industry itself, and the tiny number of people who work for it.
But first, we had to actually get to the conference. And one hour out of New York, two phone calls made it seem we never would.
The first call was from Doreen. Mike, posing as a representative of Colin Powell from PR giant Burson-Marsteller, had been speaking to Doreen every other day for the past three weeks. He’d gotten Doreen to schedule Powell to announce at her conference, Obama’s top-secret new Energy Security plan.
For the first time, Doreen sounded suspicious. She’d been trying to reach Mike all morning, and asked Mike some probing questions about where he worked, which office, and how long he’d been there. She ended the call abruptly. When Mike tried to call back a few minutes later, she didn’t pick up.
“It’s over,” he said to Andy, who was riding shotgun.
Ten minutes later, Mike’s phone rang again. It was an unknown D.C. number.
“I work for Burson-Marsteller,” said a woman’s voice. “What office are you with?”
“Uh, Washington,” Mike answered.
“Who hired you?” asked the woman.
“Uh, a man named, uh, Jack Parent,” Mike improvised. “He hired me, you know, on a special project. Very special.”
“There’s no Jack Parent,” said the woman. “Who are you really?” Then she hung up.
“They figured us out. It’s over,” said Mike.
We’d spent months planning this action. Not only was it an amazing opportunity to test out our theory of what’s holding us back from a sane climate policy, it was going to be the final scene in our new movie, The Yes Men Are Revolting. We’d built the entire movie around this scene. We had no more time—and, more importantly, no budget—to come up with a whole other ending. But we decided to continue to Washington anyhow.
Then, 15 minutes outside of D.C., Mike got another phone call.
“Still on schedule? What time can we expect you at the hotel?” Doreen asked.
Mike’s jaw dropped. “I’ll be there.”
“Great,” said Doreen. “Looking forward!”
Slowly, it dawned on us what had happened.
Unable to reach Mike, Doreen had called Burson-Marsteller to find out where he was. To get to the bottom of it, the public relations people had called Mike. But following that, they hadn’t gotten in touch with Doreen.
At the conference the next day, Andy, wearing his ridiculous wig, ascended the podium as Benedict Waterman, undersecretary of policy implementation for the Department of Energy. Doreen, though suspicious, did not intervene.
“On behalf of the Department of Energy, I am very excited to announce that we are today beginning a process that will convert the United States energy grid into one that’s powered entirely by renewable sources—and we’re going to do it in only slightly more time than it took to win WWII,” Andy announced. The joint DOE/DOD plan, he said, would be called AmeriCAN, the American Renewable Clean-Energy Network, and would involve dismantling the fossil fuel companies, and putting ownership of the new, clean power facilities in the hands of communities.
The audience repeatedly interrupted his speech—with applause.
Andy explained how converting to renewable energy would create millions of jobs, eventually save half a trillion dollars per year on healthcare costs, result in lower energy costs and greater price stability, and—bonus!—give our civilization a chance of surviving well into the future. More applause.
Andy also noted another reason, perhaps more important from the DOE’s point of view, for why AmeriCAN was needed. He pointed to a slide showing protesters blocking the Keystone XL pipeline. “A revolutionary energy program today is easier than a real revolution tomorrow,” Andy intoned—and received yet another round of applause.
Finally it was time for “Bana Slowhorse”— actually Gitz Crazyboy, the Canadian Tar Sands activist—to take the stage on behalf of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Gitz, who stands about 6-foot-2, was dressed like a “Hollywood Indian,” with a huge black “Billy Jack” hat. He told the audience he was a member of the Wannabe Tribe, in a native joke from the 1970s by Oneida comic Charlie Hill. No one got it.
Gitz described how AmeriCAN would at long last put an end to the disease of fossil fuels, imposed like smallpox on his people—and, of course, on the whole world. His disturbing, moving speech combined fabricated pan-Indian mythology with heartwarming but equally bogus anecdotes—but the core message was completely sincere: A revolutionary energy program was truly the way to ensure that our generation would be remembered not as the one that watched the world swirl counterclockwise down the toilet, but as the one that finally put an end to the unlimited greed at the root of the Indian genocide and, now, planetary destruction.
Finally, Gitz introduced our secret weapon: Ojibwe comedian Tito Ybarra, sporting a suit, a big purple headband and a necklace of oversized turquoise beads, and holding a hand drum. Gitz introduced Tito as Four Feathers, a great chief whose feathers represented his functions in Wannabe society: drum chief, fire chief, water chief and midwife. (Yes, midwife.)
Gitz asked everyone to rise and form a circle. He showed them how to link arms the “traditional” Indian way: If you’re standing next to a man, grab on his belt loops, ready to tug it up tight in case he begins to stray from the path.
And then, as Tito began singing his strange song, the defense contractors, law enforcement officials, retired generals and admirals, and even a former Navy Seal and aspiring Republican Congressman Larry Wilske danced together in a huge circle, some of them sporting special headbands with “Native Headband” emblazoned across them, and adorned with a little plastic windmill. They danced enthusiastically, for renewable energy and revolution.
Afterward, two dozen Homeland Security Congress attendees gave their business cards to Andy, Mike and Gitz, and told them about the emotion they’d felt, and how excited they were to be part of this great historic moment.
Perhaps we shouldn’t have been so surprised that, given the option, even those we consider opponents would join in on an evidently sane plan to save the future. After all, it’s not security or defense contractors who are blocking enlightened climate policy. Purely out of security concerns, the military has actually been converting its own bases to renewable energy, so that they can stand alone if the whole grid goes down. The Pentagon has even published studies about climate change and its dire security implications, and has lately become somewhat vocal about the inevitable violence that will come if we fail to stabilize the climate. Maybe that’s why the GOP-controlled U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill that blocks the DOD from even talking about climate change.
The lesson we take away is that only a tiny handful of people stand on the other side: namely, the fossil fuel companies, their lobbyists and their cronies in Congress.
This doesn’t make the fight any easier. It doesn’t mean we can achieve sane policy without revolution; after all, fossil fuel companies are some of the richest companies in human history. But it does mean that the revolution is certain to succeed, since at least 99.9 percent of us are arrayed on this side of the struggle.
Link to original article from In These Times
Green = Most Legislators Oppose Fast Track, Yellow = Some Opposition, Orange = Oppose TPP, Gray = UnknownDeLauro 13 - Signed 2013 DeLauro/Miller letterPocan - Signed Freshman Letter Opposing Fast TrackW/M - Signed Ways and Means Letter opposing TPPGibson - Signed Rep. Chris Gibson letter opposing TPP SOPA - Oppose Stop Online Piracy Act - voted against Currency - Oppose Currency Manipulation (Signed Michaud Letter) Textile - Oppose changes to "First Yarn" (Signed Textile Industry Letter)
We'll be back in September
Our special guest tonight is Rep. Jim McGovern. Rep. McGovern has long been a friend to working people, an advocate for Fair Trade, and a champion for economic equality. We'll talk about the future of trade agreements, and get his take on the current state of TPP and Fast Track leading into Congress' recess week and the next round of TPP talks. Join the Webinar at http://www.anymeeting.com/moveforjustice1
The world of international trade negotiators is an increasingly secret one, with even other agencies of national governments not fully aware of what is being offered by their negotiators in such deals. One current example is a pending "trade" deal called the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), which is being negotiated among 50 countries, including the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, Hong Kong, Iceland, Israel, Japan, Liechtenstein, Mexico, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, South Korea, and Switzerland. This agreement is apparently supposed to be "classified" information – in other words, secret and unknown to the public that will be affected by it – for a full five years after it is enters into force or the negotiations are terminated!
Embattled WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange announced Wednesday from London the publication of a secret draft text of the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), a controversial global trade agreement said to make it easier for corporations to make profits and operate with impunity across borders.
You can win some impressive victories against corporate power on the local level. Boulder voters declared that corporations aren’t people and money isn’t speech. Cities across Colorado (and other states) have passed fracking bans and moratoriums.
Don't fast-track this deal
President Barack Obama was in Asia recently, desperately trying to broker support for the Trans-Pacific Partnership despite growing opposition at home and abroad. This secretly negotiated "free trade" agreement would encompass 40 percent of the global economy and change the face of trade for many years to come.
A rebellion is breaking out in the Democratic Party, but it’s not like the 1960s when the party was torn apart over the Vietnam War and civil rights for blacks. In those days, Democrats were united in support of the New Deal/Great Society approach to economics. Today, the situation is reversed. There isn’t any significant split over foreign policy or social issues. Now Democrats are divided over economics.
Many supporters of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, trade agreement are arguing that its fate rests on President Obama's bilateral talks with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Japan this week. If Japan and the United States can sort out market access issues for agriculture and automobiles, the wisdom goes, this huge deal — in effect, a North American Free Trade Agreementon steroids — can at last be concluded.
Critics of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)—a massive trade agreement being negotiated by the United States, Canada, Japan, Singapore and other Pacific Rim countries—say that pro-trade business lobbyists have rolled out misleading polling data in an attempt to demonstrate public support for the deal that isn’t there.
WASHINGTON — Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. on Friday acknowledged that Congress will not grant President Obama fast-track trade promotion authority, which analysts say is critical to the president’s hopes to forge huge trade deals with Asia and Europe.
“The President said, if you like your health insurance, you can keep it,” says Curtis Ellis of the American Jobs Alliance, a small conservative group based in Virginia that opposes the outsourcing of U.S. jobs overseas. “Now essentially, with Obamatrade, he’s saying, if you like your job, you can keep it.”
WASHINGTON -- The fast track trade bill introduced in the Senate last week will go nowhere anytime soon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday.
No matter what your top issue is, we can all agree that decisions that affect all of us should not be made in secret without input from the public. The Camp-Baucus Fast Track bill would limit the ability of Congress to meaningfully debate and amend trade agreements.
If President Obama uses his State of the Union address to launch a major push for “fast-track” authority to bypass congressional input and oversight on a sweeping Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, he will need new allies to generate support around the country.
In his upcoming State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama is expected to prioritize what is emerging as his legacy issue: combatting America's growing wealth inequality. Expect him to promote policies to create new middle-class jobs, especially in manufacturing, and counter the erosion of wages now undermining workers economy-wide.
But in the speech, Obama is also expected to highlight several major trade initiatives, including his priority Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) deal, a massive pact with 11 Asian and Latin American nations that Obama hopes to sign quickly. The business lobby is at full tilt pushing Obama to use the SOTU to call on Congress to pass Fast Track trade authority for the TPP.
StopFastTrack.com highlights how secretive trade deal "threatens everything you care about: democracy, jobs, the environment, and the Internet."
With the launch of StopFastTrack.com, the organizations highlight how renewal of Fast Track legislation, also known as Trade Legislation Authority, would take away Congress' democratic power in deliberating and amending the TPP, which thus far has been negotiated behind closed doors, with the only information about it being provided through leaks.
Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairman Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said that increasing the power of unions is key to addressing income inequality in America.
No matter what line of work you’re in, you should be watching the debate over the emerging trade deal called the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) very closely.
It’s going to impact the American economy as much as NAFTA, and whatever version gets approved is going to be with us for a very long time.
Please join our Twitter storm on Tuesday, January 14th at 9pm Eastern. You can use the PDA map to find out what TPP issues are of interest/concern to your Congress Member.
Senator Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Representative Dave Camp (R-Mich.) have officially introduced fast-track trade authority legislation in Congress. Fast track is a process that bypasses Congress’ constitutional role in the treaty process. Fast track prohibits amendments to a trade treaty, limits Congress’ right to debate and requires an up-or-down vote (even though Senate Republicans have filibustered more than 400 other times since President Obama took office) within 90 days of the treaty coming before the Congress.
Hard work, smart planning and perseverance made 2013 a year of inspiring fair-trade activism. Vibrant grassroots activism and dogged D.C. advocacy resulted in a new level of public and congressional concern about the perils of Fast Track and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).
A billion-dollar showdown is looming in Central America this week as a Calgary-based mining company announced it will sue the country of Costa Rica, infuriating residents who say their sovereignty is being taken away.
Infinito Gold was hoping to operate an open-pit gold mine in the Crucitas region of Costa Rica’s north.
Negotiators fail to close deal amid revelations of internal discord over US corporate bullying. The Obama administration's pro-corporate Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agenda appears to have missed a deadline.
First global trade deal in 20 years to boost world commerce 'favours big business at the expense of developing countries' The World Trade Organisation has sealed its first global trade deal after almost 160 ministers who had gathered on the Indonesian island of Bali agreed to reforms to boost world commerce.
Developing countries including India win concessions but critics say World Trade Organisation is no forum for helping the poor. The first global trade deal since the creation of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) nearly two decades ago was condemned by anti-poverty groups on Friday as a boost for big business at the expense of developing nations.
A new caucus of supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement under negotiation was launched yesterday in the US Congress.
The Friends of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) caucus is headed by four co-chairman: Republican Reps. David Reichert of Washington and Charles Boustany of Louisiana, and Democratic Reps. Ron Kind of Wisconsin and Gregory Meeks of New York.
Outside Salt Lake City’s Grand America Hotel on Tuesday, the rains fell, the speakers rose, the marchers chanted.
Inside, top trade negotiators from the United States and 11 other Pacific Rim nations perhaps discussed imports and exports, profits and products, prices and patents. The exact topics aren’t known. The talks were closed.
We wrote yesterday that this deal, the Trans Pacific Partnership, already looked to be in trouble given both Congressional and foreign opposition. The Administration has conducted the talks with an unheard-of degree of secrecy, with Congressional staffers in most cases denied access to the text and even Congressmen themselves facing unheard-of obstacles (Alan Grayson reported that the US Trade Representative created an absurd six weeks of dubious delays in his case).
The New York Times reported serious worry in the U.S. Congress about the Trans Pacific Strategic Economic Partnership Agreement (TPP for short), a massive new free trade deal being pushed by the United States with the involvement of 11 other countries on both sides of the Pacific. About 170 Congresspersons have signed on to one or more of three letters which oppose fast track status forthe deal.
Today, 151 Democratic members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to President Obama laying out their concerns about the lack of consultation during the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations and their opposition to “fast tracking” the deal without any meaningful congressional input. House Democrats joined the growing chorus of some 194 members of Congress who have publicly expressed their frustrations with this massive trade agreement.
To hear lawmakers tell it, efforts to move trade legislation through the House Ways and Means Committee, while earnest and ongoing, have hit snags in the 113th Congress.
Several big pieces of legislation are slowly winding their way through the committee, including bills dealing with trade-promotion authority and the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership.
Ten score and thirteen years ago corporate forefathers began conquering wilderness, steam, gas, oil, electricity, transcontinental rails and airways communication, prospering by quenching America’s thirst for more, better, faster. Now we who built it, want more, faster, so thinking locally, we trade globally. Thus unlike you, we will always have money to eat.
President Barack Obama has demanding a ‘trade promotion authority’ from the United States Congress to fast-track the Pacific Rim treaty, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.
The fast-track authority plays a pivotal role in determining the extent to which the United States Congress can engage in a critical review of trade agreements.
How the Trans Pacific Partnership making its way through Washington seriously undermines citizens’ rights to participate in a free and open Internet. One month. That’s the time left before the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) could become a finalized agreement.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership would create a virtually permanent corporate rule over the people. What if our national leaders told us that communities across America had to eliminate such local programs as Buy Local, Buy American, Buy Green, etc. to allow foreign corporations to have the right to make the sale on any products purchased with our tax dollars?
Protesters scaled the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on Monday and dropped banners calling for greater transparency and an end to "corporatocracy" over the ongoing and secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement currently in the works between the United States and several Pacific nations.
New warnings on TPP, free trade 'regime' fostering 'global emergency situation'
As secretive talks over the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)—the pending free trade agreement slammed as "NAFTA on steroids" and "a quiet coup for the investor class"—continue, new warnings highlight the corporate winners and global losers at stake.
President Obama has asked Congress to provide “Fast Track” authorization for consideration of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) a new “free trade” deal.
The negotiations for this new “free trade” agreement have been conducted in secret. Members of Congress as well as the public have no factual information about the contents of this deal.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a proposed agreement between the U.S. and 12 nations that do business throughout the Pacific Rim. TPP and its European cousin the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (aka TAFTA), are "free trade" agreements that do much more than the term implies.
The US pharmaceutical industry has been shaping elements of the Obama administration’s secret Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement to favor their own profits. But the deal could also could cause the price of prescription drugs and some medical devices to soar on a global scale.
Pocan urges Congress not to give up its constitutional authority to oversee foreign trade agreements
Progressive Democrats in Congress are ramping up pressure on the Obama administration to release the text of Trans-Pacific Partnership, a secretive free trade agreement with 10 other nations, amid intensifying controversy over the administration's transparency record and its treatment of classified information.
CWA devised a simple plan for which they were uniquely suited: drag TPP out of the shadows and into the light - one city at a time - using a medium they understand intimately: Daily Newspapers!
Two CWA members - Dave Felice in Denver, CO and Madelyn Elder in Portland, OR have started the ball rolling. We just need to keep up the momentum leading up to a big day of petition deliveries.
Step 1 is to send an Op-Ed to your Daily Newspaper.
If you have a Twitter account you can help stop Fast Track on the TPP. Sign-in to your Twitter account and copy and paste the Tweets from our Twitter storm. Or you can copy your favorite Tweet and then click on the map and Tweet your legislator.
Twitter Storm Tweets for Tuesday, January 28th @ 9pm Eastern
Tweets for the special State of the Union Twitter Storm will be posted on January 28th at 8pm EST. Check back for the new Tweets.
Click here to quickly find your member of Congress by putting in your home address. This site also features a one-click link to the same information in Spanish
Then call and ask them to oppose Fast Track on the Trans Pacific Partnership.
Sample script is below.
“I'm a constituent, and I am strongly opposed to my representative giving away Congress’ constitutional authority to control our trade policy. We send people to Congress to stand up for us, not give away their power to stop more American job offshoring and protect us from dangerous imported food that doesn’t meet our safety standards. This latest so-called trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), would not only do that - but also ban Buy American and increase our medicine prices. That’s why it’s crucial that Congress not give away its authority to make sure every provision of TPP is in our interest before this massive deal can be signed. Good trade deals don’t need to be railroaded through Congress using Fast Track. I hope my representative will commit to opposing this outrageous legislation.”
Send an email directly to your Senators and Representatives courtesy of our partners at CWA. Enter your zip code and your members are automatically selected.
Listen "Live" Wednesday, 9/17/2014 @ 8pm
Rev. Lennox YearwoodSpecial Guest Bill McKibbenCall In Number 347-202-0385
On Friday, September 12th more than 150 activists will go to DC and Demand that their Senators and Representatives support removing the ratification deadline from the ERA (SJ Res 15 and HJ Res 113)
Please let us know your legislator's stance on Fast Track Authorization for the Trans Pacific Partnership as well as their stance on the TPP in General. Click here to report the response.
Congress only has one more week in session this year, the week of December 9. So far our pressure to stop the TPP has been working. Visit Flush the TPP for calling scripts and links to Members of the Ways and Means Committee.
Flush the TPP
The following documents are available from the Oppose TPP Downloads Folder
June 29th TPP Powerpoint
CWA TPP Jobs Report