Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Obama's Snafu

 *Updated below.

The giant middle finger that Barack Obama has been giving us these past six years is now dangling at the root, the victim of its own terminal corruption. And yet he and his sycophants persist in downgrading yesterday's crumbling of the "pillar of his presidency" into an annoying little hangnail.

"It's just a procedural snafu," whined Josh Earnest, the aptly named White House press flack of the "stinging defeat" Obama suffered from members of his own party, who shockingly denied him the right to "fast-track" democracy into oblivion via the secretive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

If you want to get Panglossian about it, Snafu (situation normal, all fucked up)  is slightly better than Fubar (fucked up beyond all recognition.) And, let's face it: the Democrats of the Senate did not suddenly go all populist overnight, despite the good work of Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in exposing the TPP for the nasty corporate coup that it is. The Dem poobahs (Reid, Schumer, etc.) were pissed because Majority Leader Mitch McConnell pulled a fast one on them, and didn't include the fig leaves (currency manipulation rules, monetary aid for displaced American workers, feeble union protections, and anti-child labor measures) that would otherwise have allowed Democrats to sell out their constituents. These people actually still love the TPP. Most of them don't even care about those odious investor state tribunals replacing sovereign court systems.

What makes the TPP now so Fubar and so toxic for the selfish interests of the oligarchs is that Japan, one of the countries negotiating the deal, is adamantly against any TPP clause forbidding it to manipulate its own currency. Barack Obama is damned if he does go along with Democratic demands, and damned if he doesn't.

Hot damn!

Another reason that the TPP may now be Fubar is that people are finally paying attention to it. And Barack Obama has only himself to blame. He has essentially fingered himself and the neoliberal agenda, for all the world to see.

  If he hadn't publicly and pettily dissed Elizabeth Warren, falsely and chauvinistically accusing her of greed and mendacity, the gossip-loving mainstream press probably wouldn't have bothered with the TPP story.

 His trip to Offshore Sweatshop Central (Nike) last week didn't help his pro-plutocracy public relations campaign, either. Nor did his simultaneous announcement allowing Shell to drill for oil in the ecologically fragile Arctic. Nor did his onslaught of fund-raising for his half-a-billion-dollar Chicago shrine, and his announcement of a sketchy greed-washing "initiative" that would raise money by and for corporations for the ostensible purpose of trickling down to the same minority poor people that Obama's Wall Street-friendly policies have already thrown under the economic bus.

Even Obama's most diehard fans are at least mildly peeved and disappointed with him at this stage. He has skipped Lame Duck mode entirely, prematurely careering straight into Post-Pre$idency Clintonoid Nirvana.

Despite yesterday's heartening victory, we must not rest on our laurels. These people don't quit, and they don't take No for an answer. But their greedy quest for more, more and more suddenly got a whole bunch of new roadblocks in its way, and their journey is not going to be the walk in the privatized park they thought it would be.

Sunlight is still the best disinfectant.


Before yesterday's Senate vote, the New York Times published an odious little editorial that urged the parties to go along to get along and bipartisanly compromise on the TPP, including whatever fig leaves are necessary to ram it through. Needless to say, readers were neither amused nor placated. My comment:

How is a compromise possible on a treaty whose terms are being kept from the public? How is this possible when the White House has threatened to prosecute any member of Congress who divulges details they are allowed to scan only under the watchful eye of the Security State?

Rather than urge a smarmy bipartisan compromise under cover of darkness, I just wish the N.Y. Times had noted how undemocratic this whole process has been. The only reason we know some of the details we do is because of WikiLeaks.

The clause allowing investor state tribunals to subsume sovereign court systems even contains a sub-clause dictating that it remain a classified secret for at least four years from the date of ratification. That's how bad it is. That's how much the billionaires and corporations dictating the terms of this deal know how bad it is, and how much we would hate it if we were allowed to know about it.

As Margot Kaminski of Yale's Information Society Project wrote in a Times op-ed last month, fast track authorization is "little more than a euphemism for Avoid the public, and benefit the fortunate few."

The citizens of the 11 other countries are standing against the secret TPP as well. They're also worried, and rightly so, that multinational corporations headquartered in the US will quickly ignore any labor protections for their low-wage workers built into the agreement as a fig leaf to ease passage.

Free trade agreements kill -- economically, socially, and literally.


It was all pretty much a head fake. We are now back to full-bore Fubar, and Barack Obama has put his damaged middle finger in a splint, the better to screw you with, my dears. The Washington Post reports that the men in a room have reached their deal and agreed to make the currency manipulation a separate bill, thus ensuring that any final TPP package would be acceptable to Japan. Obama must be so relieved.

 The Democrats apparently also got a grudging concession from Republicans on compensation for the American workers becoming collateral damage in the latest attack in the class war -- if and when the TPP and TTIP make corporations free to further depress wages and exploit those abused workers in already ill-protected countries like Vietnam.

So, after yesterday's Kabuki, the full Senate will start their show over with a Thursday matinee, with multiple melodramatic bravura performers vying for attention and lobbyist dollars in the first act of the Plutocrat Grand Prix Theater. Watch those phony plastic traffic cones begin falling like dominoes.

Just more evidence, in case you still needed any, that the much ballyhooed and bemoaned Congressional gridlock the pundits love to kvetch about only applies to measures that might benefit the little people. I hope you didn't waste any of your time today calling your Group of Ten senators with your premature thanks for their phony stance yesterday. I hope you will continue to bombard them with warnings of what they can expect at the ballot box as they "cave" to giving the center-right president authority to turn the screws in utter secrecy. The first tranche of Democratic quislings includes Carper of Delaware, Cantwell and Murray of Washington, Wyden of Oregon, Nelson of Florida, Warner and Kaine of Virginia, Bennet of Colorado, Heitkamp of North Dakota and Cardin of Maryland. These are all Obama needs to supplement the loyalists in his own Republican Party.

Meanwhile, members of the House are expected to vote on Fast Track as early as next month. Get ready for another stampede of lobbyists to make those hordes of holdouts an offer they can't refuse.


Pearl said...

7 Charts Show the Socialist Hellscape America Would Be Under Bernie Sanders -

Patricia M. said...

Lost in the TPP news . . . . Ignored by the media . . . .

Jeffrey Sterling was sentenced to 3-1/2 years in prison.

Pearl said...

http://usaHouse passes bill to end NSA's mass collection of Americans' phone via @usatoday

Topical Tommy said...

Yeah what a boring article. Everybody is sick of the TPP.

Pearl said...

Controversial fast-track trade bill clears procedural hurdle in US Senate

Now what? My head is spinning.