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COMMENTARY: Once Upon A Time In America

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Theodore-RooseveltBY WILLIAM C. HENRY What now seems like forever ago on a flood-lit Chicago stage in front of a world-wide audience of hundreds of millions of adoring soon-to-be constituents, a relatively young, bright, optimistic, ostensibly eager-to-act-upon-a-promised-forward-thinking-agenda black President-elect lifted the hopes and dreams of young, old and in between, black, white and tan, liberals and progressives, idealists and dreamers, the down-trodden and the forgotten, Untold legions cheered and wept with joy. And then … well … a number of unexpected and not so funny things happened on the way to the end of the next eight years.

If you considered yourself anywhere among the aforementioned “lifted,” you’re no doubt already painfully aware of the POTUS’ promises that have been broken or are likely to become so. It’s not a pretty picture. What I want to discuss here is yet another seeming reversal of character and principle for the Obama Presidency. I’m speaking of the TPP or Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive 12-country trade agreement written and negotiated in secret — with the explicit approval and encouragement of the Obama administration — exclusively by the barons of tpp-shipping-jobs-away_0business, industry and commerce who stand to reap BILLION$ in rewards through its implementation while leaving the very middle and lower working class constituency Barak claims to represent choking in its dust. Again, so much for promises.

In fact, we should already be familiar with the kinds of the lies, pretense, phoniness and blatant greed surrounding the TPP. They’ve become firmly embedded in our culture by way of that famous Randall Terry aphorism: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” The “once,” of course, is/was NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) or as Ross Perot so nobly and accurately referred to it, “that giant sucking sound going south.” The only difference this time around is that the “giant sucking sound” is going to be coming from a roaring pacific ocean vortex headed west! Believe me, America’s middle and lower classes won’t be needing a weatherman to tell them which way the tradewinds are blowing!

So why then is Obama squeezing so hard to get this rotten egg down our gullets? After all, surely he knows as well as we do that the only ones who benefit from these so-called “free trade” arrangements are the already obscenely wealthy, politically connected TPP architects, and the willing-to-throw-anyone-and-anything-under-the-bus-for-enough-CitizensUnited/McCutcheon-money-to-maintain-their-exercise-of-power-addiction politicians who keep these quid pro quo “dog and pony shows” churning. Well, right off the bat I’m pretty sure I’ve just semi-identified one of the primary reasons why a majority of Americans should be extremely skeptical of the TPP: Obama and congressional Republicans are TPPon the same wavelength regarding its approval! And, if you think that the best interests of America’s working class are at the top of the GOP’s — and apparently Obama’s — list of priorities, I’ve got some sub-prime mortgages I’d like to bundle up and solicit you to buy!

Anyway, my honest answer to the previous question is, in fact, “I really don’t know.” Perhaps it’s simply true that Obama isn’t nearly the liberal we initially gave him credit for being. On the other hand, I think he’s already pretty much proven that point. Maybe it really is just a “legacy” thing pure and simple. The trouble with that guesswork, though, is that it leaves a whole lot of room in either direction, and Obama has never struck me as much of a crapshooter. Maybe, shmaybe. We can speculate ’till the cows come home, but until we actually read the TPP treaty ourselves, who knows? Mr. Wikileaks, Julian Assange, says, “If you read, write, publish, think, listen, dance, sing or invent; if you farm or consume food; if you’re ill now or one day be ill, the TPP has you in its crosshairs.” Well, if any or all of that proves to be true, Barak will have plenty to answer for.

In the meantime let’s not get too carried away with all the extraneous stuff — and God knows, there may plenty wrong with the TPP in wl-tpp-cartooneach of its realms. At its heart the Trans-Pacific Partnership is a jobs and wages treaty — at least it sure as hell ought to be — and as such here’s the bottom line question you absolutely must ask yourself when it comes to the reality rather than the “promises” of international free trade: Why would ANY manufacturer of ANYTHING produce a product in this country if he can “freely” do so at a LOWER COST elsewhere and SHIP said product back here and still sell it for LESS while realizing a HIGHER profit margin than had he produced it here? Given a basic understanding of the capitalist system, when you can provide an alternative to “he wouldn’t” in answer to that question we can start a civilized, reasoned discussion of the matter. In the meantime, Clinton damn well should have known better and so now should Obama, Congress and you.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Fed up early stage septuagenarian who has actually been most of there and done most of that. Born and raised in the picturesque Pocono Mountains. Quite well educated. Very lucky to have been born into a well-schooled and somewhat prosperous family. Long divorced. One beautiful, brilliant daughter. Two far above average grandsons. Semi-retired (how does anyone manage to do it completely these days?) and fully-tired of bullshit. Uncle of the Editor-In-Chief.

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