Monday, June 3, 2013

Who Loves Ya?

There's the Foxobeckian, right-wing-screamer, teabagger-injested view of Barack Obama as a Marxist America-hating capitalism-destroying terrorist; and there's reality.

As someone said on Bill Maher's show the other night, conservatives should have been out in the streets when Obamacare became law, shouting "We won!! We won!!" Because it's a Republican plan, a giveaway to their favorite people, private insurers and drug companies, and the last thing liberals wanted. Now comes information on something about which I'd known nothing: secret negotiations on a sweeping pact regarding trade and other issues with Pacific countries, to which no one in the US has been privy, not even Congress, except 600 business people. It sounds like a Republican wet-dream:

The agreement, under negotiation since 2008, would set new rules for everything from food safety and financial markets to medicine prices and Internet freedom. It would include at least 12 of the countries bordering the Pacific and be open for more to join. President Obama has said he wants to sign it by October. 
Although Congress has exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade, so far the executive branch has managed to resist repeated requests by members of Congress to see the text of the draft agreement and has denied requests from members to attend negotiations as observers — reversing past practice. 
There is one exception to this wall of secrecy: a group of some 600 trade “advisers,” dominated by representatives of big businesses, who enjoy privileged access to draft texts and negotiators. 
This covert approach is a major problem because the agreement is more than just a trade deal. Only 5 of its 29 chapters cover traditional trade matters, like tariffs or quotas. The others impose parameters on nontrade policies. Existing and future American laws must be altered to conform with these terms, or trade sanctions can be imposed against American exports. 
From another leak, we know the pact would also take aim at policies to control the cost of medicine. Pharmaceutical companies, which are among those enjoying access to negotiators as “advisers,” have long lobbied against government efforts to keep the cost of medicines down. Under the agreement, these companies could challenge such measures by claiming that they undermined their new rights granted by the deal. 
And yet another leak revealed that the deal would include even more expansive incentives to relocate domestic manufacturing offshore than were included in Nafta — a deal that drained millions of manufacturing jobs from the American economy. 
The agreement would also be a boon for Wall Street ... Among other things, it would practically forbid bans on risky financial products, including the toxic derivatives that helped cause the crisis in the first place.
Since it's evidently being done in secret, I suppose we can't know if this article represents the whole picture, or if there are mischaracterizations or satisfactory explanations. But, assuming it's true, whatever else is true, it hardly speaks of a president trying to quash capitalism or American businesses. Entirely the opposite. If it's true, it seems pretty disappointing. And, most certainly, it should put to rest the crazy claims from the right about who Barack Obama is and isn't. As with health care, they should be rejoicing; while liberals, once again, should feel let down.

And everyone ought to acknowledge what I've said from before his first election: that Barack Obama is anything but a far left liberal. He's a slightly left-of center moderate who'd piss off liberals at least as much as he would conservatives. In fact, whereas he's indeed pissed off conservatives, it's only because they, like the fact-free regressives they've become, have come to believe the lies and smears of their screamer heroes. They have, in fact, gotten pretty much everything they could have hoped for from this president.

Except, you know, the gay thing.

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