NEW YORK – If it wasn’t enough for Barack Obama that opposition by lawmakers in his own Democratic Party helped put his sweeping “New World Order” trade strategy on the verge of death, now the president’s allies in Hollywood are piling on.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a proposed Pacific-Rim pact that would integrate the economies of 12 Pacific-Rim nations, was declared “dead in the water” by some analysts after Obama’s failure to get Japan to agree to agricultural terms central to the TPP ahead of a crucial meeting in Vietnam next month.
Now the Obama administration faces new obstacles as the sultan of Brunei, a partner in the trade megadeal, has decided to impose Islamic law, or Shariah, on its citizens.
The Islamic monarch’s move has drawn the ire of Hollywood figures such as Jay Leno and Ellen DeGeneres, and feminist activist Naomi Wolf.
Hollywood stars and Obama supporters on the political left who are organizing in opposition argue the anti-“gay” and anti-woman principles and practices of Shariah are anathema to the pro-abortion LGBT agenda championed by the Obama administration.
Last Wednesday, Sultan Hassanal Bokiah declared oil-rich Brunei Darussalam, the tiny nation-state surrounded by Malaysia on the island of Borneo, will adhere to a stronger form of Islamic law than even Malaysia, also a TPP partner state, and nearby Indonesia.
BBC News reported that while three-quarters of the residents of Brunei are Malay Muslims, there are also sizable Buddhist and Christian communities.
“With faith and gratitude to Allah the almighty, I declare that tomorrow, Thursday, May 1, 2014, will see the enforcement of Shariah law phase one, to be followed by other phases,” the 67 year-old absolute monarch declared in a royal decree, according to Channel NewsAsia.
The announcement drew immediate fire from TPP opponents.
Curtis Ellis, communications director of the American Jobs Alliance, wrote in an editorial published on the group’s website that the Obama administration is “seeking deeper ties with the Islamic Sultanate of Brunei even as human rights groups, religious freedom advocates, and gay and women’s rights groups protest a regime that supports the public flogging of women who have abortions, the jailing of women who become pregnant outside of marriage and the stoning to death of gay men and lesbians.”
Ellis pointed out that DeGeneres and Leno are among the Hollywood celebrities joining the Human Rights Campaign and the Feminist Majority Foundation in calling for a boycott of the Beverly Hills Hotel,
The Beverly Hills Hotel is part of the Brunei-owned Dorchester Collection that includes pricey upscale hotels around the world.
The legendary five-star hotel and resort has been a “the place to stay” for Hollywood bigwigs and those seeking to be noticed by the California elite for the past century.
Brunei’s Dorchester Collection includes the Dorchester in London, the Plaza Athénée in Paris, the Principe di Savoia in Milan and Le Richemond in Geneva.
Protests against Brunei have led to the cancellation of high-profile meetings and conferences at the Beverly Hills Hotel, including a conference scheduled by a prominent LGBT group.
The protest has led leftist political activists in California to picket the hotel with pink signs reading “this hotel is owned by homophobes.”
“If the Obama administration gets its way,,” Ellis said, “Brunei could bypass U.S. courts and go before an international tribunal to sue for lost profits from the boycott being pushed by the city of Beverly Hills, Hollywood celebrities and human rights advocates.”
Ellis said the “barbarism in Brunei shows us everything that’s wrong with the Trans-Pacific Partnership.”
“We should not give special privileges to countries that spit on basic American values,” he said. “The Obama administration should be standing up for American values and human rights, not the sultan of Brunei.”
Feminist activist and author Naomi Wolf called Obama’s outreach to Brunei a “new low” in America’s approach to human rights.
“The fact that President Obama seeks the TransPacific Partnership to reward Brunei, which has institutionalized the torture to death and violent punishment of gay men, lesbians and women in general, represents a new low in the administration’s abandonment of America’s traditional role in upholding human rights,” said Wolf.
She called the TransPacific Partnership “a terrifying development for Americans because it forces us to live under decisions that we have no say about whatsoever and takes legislation and legal rulings out of the hands of Americans and puts them in the hands of international courts beyond the reach of the will of the people.”
WND has also reported that while the Republican establishment led by House Speaker John Boehner has supported Obama on the TPP, the pact has received opposition from a “strange bedfellows” coalition. Tea-party conservatives and union-supported Democrats have blocked Obama from getting the fast-track authority the administration needs to get the treaty approved by Congress.
WND reported in January Republicans in the House were preparing to follow the lead of the White House and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to rubber-stamp the TPP.
In a little-noticed press release that month, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., together with ranking member Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich., joined together to announce they were introducing “fast-track” authority legislation to promote trade.
Fast-track authority would allow the Obama administration to push the TPP through Congress with a simple majority vote. The rules would limit debate so no amendments could be introduced to modify the language of the agreement the Obama administration has negotiated behind closed doors.
But WND reported an impressive group of 564 labor, environmental, family-farm, and community organizations – which political analysts typically count as core elements of the Democratic Party’s voting base – sent President Obama a strongly worded letter contending the White House’s promotion of TPP undermines the president’s message on income inequality.
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