Monday, April 27, 2015

Obama's Over the Top Rhetoric on TPP Risks Splitting the Democratic Party

Democrats’ free trade war is getting ugly, and Obama is bending the truth

As I've said many times before, I am not an Obama-bot or mindless, blind follower of Obama. When he is right  (as on the Keystone pipeline veto and improving relations with Cuba) I will deliver kudos and plaudits, but when he is wrong - as he is on the TPP- I will not hesitate to go after him and criticize him.  This is what a true democracy and freedom of speech is about. (Apart from which I am not a Democrat but an Independent - so pride myself on being "non-partisan" in the sense of presidential adulation.)

Now it is time to go after him again. Obama has allowed his sense of self-righteousness, entitlement and power to get ahead of him regarding the current debate (with Sen. Elizabeth Warren) on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. In the most recent barrage, on Friday, Obama  accused Warren and congressional Democrats of being "dishonest" and spreading "misinformation" about the Trans-Pacific Partnership. But by far the worst insult is when Obama actually compared TPP critics to "Sarah Palin touting death panels", to do with Obamacare.  Are you fucking kidding me? Those are fighting words, and Senators Warren and Sherrod Brown didn't take them kindly.

Especially as, according to 'Common Dreams':

"It was an unusually aggressive attack for the president -- accusing members of his own party not of having misplaced priorities, but of actively working to deceive the public. Obama is rarely so severe even with his Republican opponents. "

So again, one wonders if these are Obama's own ill-advised words, or if it's some duncie numbskull advisor telling him to say them to expedite this shady TPP baloney without "upstarts" from the left giving him problems. This recalled putdowns by his former press secretary Robert Gibbs and later, angry remarks made a number of years ago by another toad, Rahm Emmanuel - who referred to liberals at one White House meeting as "f*cking retards".  That despicable outburst and putdown has burned forever in progressive brains and explains why many aren't prepared to take any shit now, including from Obama or any of his minions.

In any case it was dumb, precipitous and only stirred more rancor. Obama ought to damned well know better, especially with a critical mid-term election coming up next year and the Dems with a chance to win back 5 seats to re-take the Senate.

Obama actually  said that the Democratic criticism that "gets on [his] nerves the most" is the notion that his TPP pact is "secret," and went on to insist that the terms of TPP will help American workers.

All of which is patented hogshit. For once Obama needs to come clean and tell the truth. The TPP IS secret since it is classified on account of "ongoing negotiations" (by corporo-lobbyists) and the only way we know anything is thanks to leaks. Neither Obama or any of his people in his administration have given us duck squat.  From the existing leaks  according to Public Citizen, we know that the "TPP could ship millions of good-paying US jobs overseas.  We also know that the TPP could increase the costs of health care and medicine, while hurting health and safety standards. And we know that the TPP could make corporations even stronger and undo what few reforms are left on Wall Street."

So he's talking trash about  the TPP not being secret, and indeed, after refusing to allow release of the JFK assassination files from the National Archives in 2013 and continuing to prosecute whistle blowers (under the 1917 Espionage Act), we already know the Obama administration is the most secretive in history, see e.g.

SO who is fooling WHOM?  As for Obama's lame claim that it "will help American workers" we have only his words to go by. Sure, he may want to burnish his legacy but we still need to see the actual documents because no matter how much a "good guy" a prez may believe he is - so he wouldn't jeopardize his legacy - he ought to have the sense to realize that real citizens still need independent  confirmation of  that, not merely taking him at his word. (And btw, this is also a wakeup call for Hillary to come clean and announce where she stands on the TPP)

Anyway, on Saturday, Sen. Warren and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) responded with a letter "essentially telling Obama to put up or shut up" - according to Common Dreams. . If the deal is so great, Warren and Brown wrote, the administration should make the full negotiation texts public before Congress votes on a "fast track" bill that would strip the legislative branch of its authority to amend it.  Warren and Brown's request is totally reasonable and such disclosure is a touchstone of democracy. (Which is also why we expect GMO foods to be labeled!)  On the other hand, if we are no long a democracy but a corporatocracy, with the deal being written by lobbyists - then it is no wonder it would be kept under wraps, or that GMO purveyors would decry labeling. Where the wonder arises is in a President who claims to be acting in our interest and promised "full transparency" at the outset of his first term in office- but now conveniently hurls it into a ditch. What the hell happened to that full transparency?

As the two protesting Senators wrote (letter obtained by The Huffington Post):

"Members of Congress should be able to discuss the agreement with our constituents and to participate in a robust public debate, instead of being muzzled by classification rules"

This references the fact that Democrats  and some Republican critics have been particularly frustrated by Obama's decision to treat the TPP documents as classified information, which prevents them from responding to Obama's claims about the pact in detail.

Why "classified"? The only reason would be to prevent open disclosure, to keep aspects hidden that would be known in advance to arouse lots of public ire.

The Senators went on:

"Your Administration has deemed the draft text of the agreement classified and kept it hidden from public view, thereby making it a secret deal. It is currently illegal for the press, experts, advocates, or the general public to review the text of this agreement. And while you noted that Members of Congress may 'walk over ... and read the text of the agreement' -- as we have done -- you neglected to mention that we are prohibited by law from discussing the specifics of that text in public."

Again, confirming an enraged public would  result if the details were actually known.

Warren and Brown were particularly miffed at being accused of lying, as they ought to be. This is shameful rhetoric more consistent with an asshole like Rahm Emmanuel than a President who supposedly has made the people's welfare  a priority.  At first, I had to read Obama's remarks several times, then wondered what kind of "choom" this guy had been smoking. He's never used such invective on the GOP including  their Tea Party faction which often depicted him as the Antichrist, e.g.

As well as portraying him as a "witch doctor" while dissing Obamacare. Why didn't Obama get as apoplectic about this misrepresentation as he is now with Liz Warren? Why can't he be honest when he tries to compare us with Sarah Palin  and her "death panels" garbage? Anyway, the letter goes on:

"We respectfully suggest that characterizing the assessments of labor unions, journalists, Members of Congress, and others who disagree with your approach to transparency on trade issues as 'dishonest' is both untrue and unlikely to serve the best interests of the American people,"

Common Dreams went on to note:

"Some of Obama's claims about TPP on Friday took some creative license with the truth. He said that he wanted a trade deal that would allow American automakers to sell more cars overseas, without mentioning that Ford and autoworker unions do not support the pact. He also said that he had not included any language barring currency manipulation -- a key tactic by which Japan and China undercut American production -- because it might hamper the Federal Reserve's monetary policy operations"

Most brutal, according to Common Dreams:

The Warren-Brown letter also includes a subtly vicious Democrat-on-Democrat dig, suggesting that Obama's trade transparency record is worse than that of former President George W. Bush. They note that Bush published the full negotiation texts of a major free trade deal with Latin America several months before Congress had to vote on giving the deal fast track benefits. The Obama administration has resisted calls to follow suit with TPP.he

Here we see the potential for a Democratic Civil war. A total circular firing squad. A plausible demolition of any coalition that might enable a Dem Senate takeover next year.

Joan Walsh on has written (

 "In fact, here are three big ways the president is lamentably shading the truth when it comes to TPP.

1. Secrecy: It’s true that members of Congress can personally “walk over” and “read the text” of the agreement. Alone, without staff, and without taking notes. And they’re prohibited by law from discussing the details with the media or their constituents.  The administration has deemed the negotiations “classified.”

When Rep. Brad Sherman, a TPP critic, told Salon’s David Dayen that’s the only way members of Congress can review the text, it reminded me of the way they can review sensitive intelligence and national security issues they’re overseeing.

2. Marginalizing opposition as Warren and “the unions.” Warren is joined by Democrats ranging from frequent ally Brown to pro-business voices like Sen. Chuck Schumer to moderate Sen. Bob Casey. While the president hoped to win support from the Congressional Black Caucus, skeptics remain. And yes, labor has been a loud voice against the deal – along with the rest of the Democratic base, and then some.

The coalition opposing TPP includes the National Resources Defense Council, Doctors without Borders, the Electronic Frontier Foundation; critics of certain aspects of the likely deal include New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and the AARP. They are concerned about the way TPP could affect not only manufacturing jobs, but drug prices, intellectual property, environmental regulation and food safety. Obama is facing a remarkably broad-based pushback to his plans, and his effort to isolate Warren and unions is disingenuous.

3. Denying the vast, pro-corporate power of the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” panel. The wrangling between Warren and the White House over TPP isn’t new. Ever since her March 4 op-ed denouncing the “Investor State Dispute Settlement” provisions of the trade deal, frankly, administration officials have been trying to make Warren look a little batty.

The ISDS process – a private arbitration system that replaces public courtrooms as the venue for conflict  resolution — is common in trade deals. It began as an effort to protect Western corporations from capricious (and/or populist) governments in developing countries. Warren argued that the ISDS provisions in the TPP “would allow foreign companies to challenge U.S. laws.”  The Obama administration countered by saying that “ISDS does not and cannot require countries to change any law or regulation,” and that the U.S. has never lost an ISDS case anyway.

That’s true, too – if misleading. An adverse ISDS decision doesn’t “require” nations to change laws or regulations; they can pay a steep fine instead. It’s also true the U.S. hasn’t ever lost such a case, but this is the largest trade agreement in history, covering a third of the world’s commerce. That could change.

Just as important, it lets U.S. corporations, and other big multinationals, bully other countries. Famous examples involve tobacco — American tobacco firms have challenged restrictions on packaging in Australia and Canada – mining and fracking "

Obama needs to decide WHOSE side he is on, and whether he stands with the Neoliberal punks, poltroons and parasites or the PEOPLE.  Also whether he really supports truth and transparency or continued obfuscation and attacking democratic principles and fellow Dems. He also needs to recognize who his real enemies are, those who depict him as a tribal Witch doctor and "son of Satan" or those who support him in general  - but demand he live up to principles and the Constitution as JFK would have done.

See also:


"The rules in the TPP can be used to challenge any consumer, labor, or environmental regulation approved at the state, local or federal level. The enforcement powers will rest with an extra-judicial dispute settlement mechanism that will impose penalties that are not subject to appeal.

On this issue President Obama's assurance that the TPP will not challenge financial regulation or other types of regulation are worthless. He has no idea what sort of people will be appointed to these tribunals in future years."



"The President’s alignment with Republicans, Wall Street, and corporate lobbying organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, and against progressives, labor, and almost all Democrats to push TPP is frustrating Democrats across the board"

Enraging us is more like it!

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