Wednesday, August 15, 2007

SPP and the American left

I've just spent the better part of several exasperating days arguing with American "progressives" about SPP.
Shorter US Progs : If the John Birch Society et al say the sky is blue, then we say it isn't.

I thought we were all pretty well agreed on both sides of the border that while Glen Beck, Jerome Corsi, Lou Dobbs and the John Birch Society have their own bizarre agenda to use the SPP to promote their New World Order paranoia, the rest of us should get on with the actual facts at hand. Right?

Nuh-uh-uh, say the American progressives.

Orcinus quotes: "Most people familiar with the SPP understand that it is a benign and slow-moving attempt to coordinate trade and security policies in a bid to improve the lives of citizens in all three countries."

Chris Hayes at The Nation : "There's also a federal initiative called the Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP), which they portray as a Trojan horse packed with globalists scheming to form a European Union-style governing body to manage the entire continent. The reactions of those in SPP to this characterization seem to range from bemusement to alarm.
"There is no NAFTA Superhighway," Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Market Access and Compliance David Bohigian told me emphatically over the phone. Initiated in 2005, the SPP is a relatively mundane formal bureaucratic dialogue, he says. Working groups, staffed by midlevel officials from all three countries, figure out how to better synchronize customs enforcement, security protocols and regulatory frameworks among the countries.
"Simple stuff like, for instance, in the US we sell baby food in several different sizes; in Canada, it's just two different sizes."

Digby [Digby!] : "As it turns out, there is a foreign owned toll road being planned in Texas that has nothing to do with NAFTA and that's causing quite a stir. People seem to have mashed the whole thing up in their lizard brains and come up with some one-world plot by Spain and the Council on Foreign Relations. Or something.

I'm with Justice Stephen Breyer who recently said:
...the true division of importance in the world is not between different countries. The important division is between those who are committed to reason, to working out things, to understanding other people, to peaceful resolution of their differences ... and those who don't think that."

If that makes me an elitist, one-worlder, so be it. I can see this election's going to have a nutzoid quality to it that we haven't seen in some time. Just what we need."

Enough with the fucking highway already. Who gives a crap what it's called?
From the US Dept of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration :
"The proposed system will be a network of transportation corridors (routes) incorporating separate lanes for passenger vehicles and trucks, rail lines for high-speed passenger and freight rail, and a dedicated utility zone. Components in the system may incorporate existing and new highways, railways, and utility rights-of-way where practical. Up to 366 meters (1,200 feet) wide in some places, the corridor is designed to move people and freight faster and more safely through Texas, from Mexico to the Oklahoma border.

I-69 is a 2,570-kilometer (1,600-mile) national highway that, once completed, will connect Mexico, the United States, and Canada. Other States involved in the I-69 project include Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The planned location for I-69, designated by the U.S. Congress in the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA), was chosen because of the economic opportunities that could be created along the north-south corridor, specifically those related to increased trade resulting from NAFTA."

OK, got that? It might even be a good idea and if it isn't, there are still formidable obstacles to overcome in implementing it, but you don't seem to be one of them. You could start by admitting that your own government websites exist.

Anything else you'd like to discuss about SPP? Corporate globalization maybe? NAFTA?
Because there's a lot more at stake here than a friggin road and your need to distance yourselves from even mentioning any issue that the JBS has ever laid claim to on your national airwaves. The civil rights movement would have had a rougher go of it if American progs of the 60's left the field to the KKK just because they'd claimed it as their issue already.

American Progs : A little louder, please.

See also : Chet at Vanity Press
UPDATE : Christopher Hayes leaves a link to a response on his blog in the comments below, ending with
"Even if SPP is scheming to do all sorts of awful things (and there’s some evidence it is), it’s not masterminding a non-existent highway."
UPDATE 2 : Melissa at Shakespeare's Sister asks Chet to do a post on SPP for her US readers and Chet responds brilliantly.
With thanks to the various US message boards linking here today.
So. We're rolling then.


West End Bob said...

Don't hold your breath on progressives in the US speaking up, Alison.

They've got their panties in a wad over the Hillary/Barack brouhaha.

Like if either of them gets appointed prez it will make a hell of a lot of difference.

Does that sound cynical of me? No doubt . . . .

That guy said...

Sadly, I've got to agree with West End Bound. Politics in the USA has gotten so tribal lately that yes, many American progressives would say that the sun rose in the West if some wingnut said it rose in the East.

I'm just going to keep screaming at them. I'm not sure whether it'll do any good, though.

Anonymous said...

Baby food?!? BABY FOOD?!?

Takin' notes, Alison. I can't live without you any more.

Anonymous said...

My response here:

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Good boogin', Alison. I reckon the knee-jerkers might just hafta start doin' a little thinkin' on their own. Our Canajun right isn't gonna know which way to turn. Strange bedfellows all around: Lou Dobbs an' Maude Barlow; King Steve and the Merkan left.


RossK said...

Looks like Mr. Hayes is doing kinda/sorta a half-a-mamma-mea-culpa.



orc said...

I don't think that I69's going to make it north of the Texas border (if even that far; Texas is full of extravagant transportation schemes that never seem to actually materialize.) To build a nice big new highway, you need lots and lots of money to actually build the highway, and that will get in the way of the graft.

And it's not as if the US is awash in money anymore.

What's more likely is that the SPP will be implemented and the freight will be hauled from the Mexican border to the Canadian border by railroad -- a 100 car train of double-stack containers has a ridiculously large cargo capacity and the magic phrase "toll road" will see the rural parts of I69 looking like a concreted desert.

And don't forget that the SPP is a conservative trade agreement (goods, yes! people, no!) and it's being planned by a collection of /conservative governments/ here; modern conservatives don't build, they pillage and destroy, and I have the highest confidence that the new highways will dissolve in a whirlpool of embezzled funds.

Anonymous said...

Mr Hayes does not allow comments on his blog or I would have asked him if he'd even read your post first.
How do they read what you copied off the US Gov Highways website and then say Nope there is no Nafta highway and even if there were it isn't related to SPP?
Oh, right, see picture above

Alison said...

Orc : What did I just say about enough with the highway already? ;-)

Re Need lots and lots of money to build a highway/graft.
Up here in BC, we have Macquarie and Cintra bidding on the don't-mention-the-olympics highway as part of a P-3.
I blogged recently about this article, in which it is claimed that companies like Macquarie put up an immediate wad of cash to the state in exchange for long term highway privatisation and profits.

What say you? Not applicable to new highways in the US?

Jan : Hayes would probably say that SPP is not mentioned by name as being the instigator on that specific webpage.
Thanks for pointing out that was a link, Ross.

Chet : Brilliant brilliant post at Shakes. Very generous of you to link to me as well.

Thanks for your comments on this, all. I know comments have been a total pain to get in to this week.

orc said...

«Up here in BC, we have Macquarie and Cintra bidding on the don't-mention-the-olympics highway as part of a P-3.
I blogged recently about this article, in which it is claimed that companies like Macquarie put up an immediate wad of cash to the state in exchange for long term highway privatisation and profits.»

From my viewpoint privatistion is just another of the traditional ways to do asset-stripping; either by arranging a guaranteed subsidy or running the new property so badly that the government is obliged to buy the property back.

Eventually the SoCred scum that run BC will run out of things to loot, and a more-sensible government will get into power. I'm sure that the companies bidding on privatised highways are assuming that the second thing the more-sensible government will do is to seize the offending highways and give the owner a nice fat tax-free payoff for their troubles.

What else would they do? Muddy their hands by engaging in vulgar commerce?

That just wouldn't be proper!

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