Monday, May 04, 2009

Max Baucus Champion Of A Free Cuba? Well... Let's Not Stretch This Beyond Reason


It's all about the Benjamins

It's rare indeed when Max Baucus (D-MT), one of the sleaziest and most self-serving operators in the Senate, is pushing the envelope on anything worthwhile. Baucus is generally considered a solidly reactionary Democrat way in the pocket of the vested interests that have financed his political career. Funny as it sounds, one of the worst of those vested interests, AgriBusiness, is pushing-- or has Baucus pushing-- in a positive direction: normalization of relations with Cuba.

I guarantee you Baucus doesn't give a rat's ass about Justice for the Cuban people. But his patrons want to sell their products to Cuba and suddenly some of the most reactionary shitheads in the Senate, generally all especially corrupt ones like Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor, are on the side of the good guys (for a change). The extremely conservative AgriBusiness forces have given Baucus $1,231,565 and nearly as much to Lincoln. So he's sponsoring and she's co-sponsoring a bill "that would open the door to more agricultural imports to Cuba, taking advantage of President Obama’s pledge to 'seek a new beginning' with the island nation."

It's funny watching dyed in the wool conservatives like Baucus and Lincoln fighting for their special interests-- Big Business-- while other senators, in this case Bob Menendez, Mel Martinez and Bill Nelson fighting for their own special interests-- in this case revanchist Cuban wingers who demand the inhuman and dysfunctional embargo be maintained.

The American people, if not the displaced Cuban gangster-aristocracy that fled the Revolution, is way ahead of Congress on this. Businesses from Virginia to Utah and, of course, Florida are gearing up for the inevitable, regardless of what overly cautious elected officials may think. Of course, we haven't even gotten to the really hard part yet-- and I can tell you where Baucus and Lincoln will be on that one. And it won't be with any Cuba Libre folks.

One of the smallest brained of all the GOP freshmen-- and competition is very fierce-- is surely Aaron Schock, who represents a district centered on Peoria, home of Caterpillar, the district's #1 employer. The district also grows a lot of farm products, farm products the farmers/voters would like to sell to, say, Cuba. So it was a shock when Schock, who has been nicely paid off by the right-wing Cuban-American interest groups to oppose normalization, came out against what other farm belt congressmembers are pushing for. Small brain Aaron was confusing normalizing relations with the hideous NAFTA-like trade agreements for Panama and Colombia that Bush left on the table and that Obama is thinking of going forward with-- just in time to wreck the Democratic Party's ambitions for the midterm elections. CongressDaily, while not explaining how Clinton's embrace of NAFTA wrecked his chances of passing health care reform and screwed congressional Democrats in 1994, pointed out how risky this basically Republican pet project of Rahm Emanuel's is:
The Obama administration is risking provoking a war among House Democrats by backing a trade agreement with Panama, some lawmakers say, potentially spilling over to poison the rest of an ambitious domestic agenda.
"The big problem many of us have is to take a Bush-negotiated trade agreement and vote on it ... The president should negotiate a new Panama trade deal that's consistent with the president's position when he was running for president," Rep. Michael Michaud, D-Maine, said in an interview
Thursday. "That's not the change I voted for; that's not the change that a lot of people all across the country voted for; that's not the change that the president was committed to when he was running for president."

Michaud's a Blue Dog but he's right on this one anyway; and he's also co-chairman of a bloc of 37 House Trade Working Group members who are opposed to new trade agreements until they are renegotiated with better worker protections.

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