Into the Twilight Zone with the Trans-Pacific Partnership

The shadow elites are getting antsy to pass the thing. Apparently they strong-armed the Senate after the initial vote against cloture. Meanwhile, CNN has been airing ads bugging viewers to call their Congressmen and ask them to support fast-track trade authorization. CNN’s target audience is fools who presume themselves politically savvy when in fact they are anything but, so it’s telling that the only ads I’ve seen about TPP have been in favor of it, not against it. If you watch CNN at all critically and orient its coverage in a spectrum that includes, shall we say, Opposing Viewpoints, it’s painfully obvious that these ads are dogshit Astroturf. TPP is so shady and objectionable that it roused a notoriously corrupt United States Senate from its normal state of moral slumber into one of unusual sovereign vigor. This is surely in part because the electorate has raised hell and clogged the phone lines.

Now Obama and whatever creepy transnational elements are paying him off or extorting him or intimidating him in the classic Sicilian tradition will be forced to run the same campaign of bullying and bribery on the House of Representatives. Even accounting for the unfortunate truth that Barack Obama has aggressively catfished his base from the start, something really untoward has happened to him with TPP. His demands for fast-track authority on such a shady and controversial treaty go far beyond his normal baseline of cravenness and corruption. He’s demanding that Congress give up its oversight powers over a creepy secret trade deal that is reputed, at least, to force the wholesale transfer of trade policy authority from the United States government to an inscrutable and unaccountable junta of private transnational tribunals. It’s a sort of burning of the Reichstag moment, except that the chancellor is out front on the steps, berating the legislators to get on with it already and set their own damn chambers on fire. It’s no wonder that Congress has gotten a bit prickly. TPP stinks to high heaven, and not everyone in Congress is craven or crooked enough to cede Congressional powers to an international shadow government just because the president says so.

In case TPP passes, remember that NAFTA was implemented at a time of rising American prosperity, and even so it wreaked economic havoc in many communities. It was just that enough dot-com money was sloshing around to goose employment in the bullshit parts of the economy, and gas was cheap. Ain’t a hell of a lot left to inflate into a speculative bubble these days. Unemployment is at a secular high, real estate is overheated in most economically viable parts of the country, and the floor on oil prices is double what it was during the Clinton and Bush II administrations. The United States is already at the threshold of civil unrest without TPP: last year it was Ferguson, this year it’s Baltimore, and we haven’t even reached Memorial Day.

But don’t think for a second that po’ crackas aren’t also drawing short sticks in the game of life. Some of them, it’s safe to assume, are too strategically minded to just burn down some check-cashing joints and a CVS. Nor should one count on their insurrection being a redux of the ridiculous citizen “militias” of the nineties. We’ve already seen armed vigilantes successfully fend off federal agents on behalf of Cliven Bundy, and we have plenty of boys coming back from the desert with advanced military training and poor job prospects.

These guys come from towns that can’t take much more abuse from the national power centers. The social networks in these towns include military snipers and explosives technicians. Think Timothy McVeigh, not Ismaaiyl Brinsley. If the cracker townships hit the tipping point, restoring civil order will be beyond the capacity of the National Guard. These guys are the National Guard. These guys are the Army. If they feel having a domestic guerrilla insurgency, there will be a domestic guerrilla insurgency.

The TPP’s proposed tribunals are on track to be the worst sorts of Agenda 21 fantasies made incarnate. The vanguard of the coming dystopia is on the authoritarian right, not the authoritarian left, but when push comes to shove these are minor details. If there’s a tangible junta of international shadow masters besieging the last redoubts of genuine American productivity, competence, and plain dealing, the conspiracy theories won’t just be for right-wing nutjobs any more.

Look at it this way: the judgments of international trade tribunals don’t enforce themselves. In practice, this means that they have to be enforced by the governments of the signatory countries. If the public refuses to abide by them willingly, they must be enforced at gunpoint. It would be plausible for Blackwater- or CIA-style mercenaries to enforce them through international skulduggery, but this is a tall order in countries that have not sustained a major breakdown of civil authority (e.g., ones other than Ukraine). Working in a stronger state, the mercs can expect a redux of Raymond Allen Davis’s excellent adventure in the Pakistani judicial system. American cops can expect less and less support for their efforts to enforce international treaty tribunal rulings, and even domestic judicial rulings on behalf of multinational corporations.

Sir Robert Peel’s assertion that the police is the public and the public is the police holds only until the public goes into revolt against the police. On the other hand, the police in these circumstances could decide to act in the public interest, especially if they’re policing the same public from which they were recruited (much more likely in the cracker townships than in the ghettos), rather than the interests of the transnational elites.

This is a good time to review the rotten way that the political class in Washington treats the Secret Service. Congressmen expect Secret Service agents to lay down their lives for presidents and their families in exchange for salaries that aren’t even competitive with other law enforcement agencies. Then they wax indignant when it emerges that morale, discipline, and readiness are faltering. Elected officials who are probably screwing interns in Capitol Hill broom closets scream bloody murder about Secret Service agents legally hiring prostitutes in Colombia, but not about their stiffing them so belligerently that they call the police.

The moral of the story is that the governing class doesn’t give a shit about the help. The Secret Service is functionally and socially part of the help, so of course some of its agents stop giving a shit. The feeling is mutual. The results include agents driving drunk into investigation scenes (literally) and being shielded from arrest by senior colleagues. Secret Service agents are neither paid viable mercenary wages nor treated respectfully by those they protect, so the latter must count on their unwavering sense of duty. This is moral parasitism, and it isn’t even a sustainable form of moral parasitism, since this sense of duty is obviously wavering, and badly so.

These guys are supposed to be the A Team, and they can’t be counted on to do their jobs and show any sense of duty. When the moral rot starts creeping into a top-notch agency like the Secret Service, you have to figure that civil order is really fucking precarious. If word gets around about this sort of behavior in an agency that is expected to be completely above reproach, the country is on the verge of a massive crisis of legitimacy in its government. The FBI, by the way, is much, much, much worse, and has been for decades.

There’s a lot of talk around the internet of guillotines and lamppost hangings. One would hope that it’s merely the ranting of sickos, a pedestrian manifestation of the sinful nature of man. What’s scary is that it could easily become much more concrete (maybe in the Jimmy Hoffa tradition) and deadly than that. Anger over economic and civic failures could break out in the form of civil disobedience, or as armed insurrection against the government, or as race war, which the United States had abundantly in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Once it breaks out, it’ll be damned hard for anyone to control.

Looking at Washington today, we can see grandstanding moral parasites running what may be the best palace guard in world history into the ground and desperately trying to cede their own government’s sovereignty to an international corporate junta. It looks like terminal hubris.

Let us pray that we not be put to the test.

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