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Judging Obama

December 3rd, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

The president of the United States is the most frequently judged person on earth. Everything about him is analyzed and scrutinized by everyone on the planet who is aware of him, which is just about everyone. Whether you’re the editor of a major political newsmagazine or some kid in a tribe in Africa, you have to have some opinion about the president. There is of course an incredibly broad spectrum of opinions—Bush was perceived as everything from an incompetent pea-brained moron to an angel of God sent here to lead America to a glorious triumph of Good against Evil—but the spectrum has perhaps never been wider than with the current president.

Obama is perceived as a savior by some and as the Anti-Christ by others. To some he’s an inspirational, transformational world leader, while to others he’s a bloodthirsty fascist, the second coming of Hitler. Unfortunately, most of these perceptions are not based at all on fact, but come only secondary to a personal judgment. Those who like him personally will think him a great leader. Those who hate him, whether because he’s black or a liberal or any number of other reasons, will see him as evil. The latter, far more than the former, are guilty of making judgments based not at all on facts and reasoning but simply on things they hear about him—usually wild conspiracy-theories—that they choose to believe are true because it fits neatly into their often distorted worldview.

Personally, I’ve tried to avoid letting my opinion be swayed by anything other than his actions. Doing my best to remain as objective as possible, I’ve allowed my perception time to solidify over the past couple of years of observing him. As a presidential candidate, I had a lot of admiration for him. He seemed to be defying conventional wisdom, running an intelligent, respectable campaign and treating the American people, unlike the previous president, as though most of them had a high-school education. Of all the candidates in the field at the beginning of 2008 (except for extreme long-shots Dennis Kucinitch and Ron Paul), Obama seemed the most likely to be the genuine article, a person whose desire to bring about positive change, rather than pure selfish ambition, was behind his run for office.

But then he was elected, and proceeded to behave like every other recent president, always taking the cautious, middle-of-the-road approach even though the times clearly call for bold action, and showing tremendous deference to the financial elites even though the times clearly call for someone to stand up to them and loosen their stranglehold over the economic welfare of the country. He compromised on the economic stimulus, on regulating the banks, on health care reform, and now Afghanistan, in each case choosing the path somewhere between the center and the far right. Just like every other recent president.

And slowly my perception solidified into two possibilities which I wrote about a few months ago: either he’s a pussy or a sellout. And now that some additional time has gone by and the picture of who this man is has had more time to develop, I am ready to conclude that he is probably a sell-out.

What do I mean by this? If he is, in fact, a sell-out, then who in fact has he sold-out to?

I’m not entirely sure of the answer, because I don’t have all the facts about who really calls the shots at the highest levels of power in the world, but it’s certainly to people more powerful than him, the people who really run the show in Washington and beyond.

My cousin Jason recently recommended I watch a couple of documentaries by Alex Jones, a film-maker dismissed by the mainstream media as a crackpot conspiracy theorist. These documentaries, “The Obama Deception” and “Fall of the Republic” put forward the claim that Barack Obama was groomed by a cabal of wealthy financial elites since long before his presidential run, that these elites have nothing less than global domination and the mass enslavement of humanity under one world government as their goal, and that they handpicked Obama to be president because through the force of his personal charm and rhetorical skill, he could fool the public into supporting policies they would think would be helping them but in reality would only serve the interests of the financial elites.

Ten months ago I would have dismissed these claims as ludicrous. Today, I can’t be so sure.

Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t honestly believe that there is some sinister cabal of wealthy elites from all around the world plotting to enslave humanity. Many of the claims made by Jones are extreme leaps in logic. He presents genuine facts, but then introduces conclusions that do not at all follow from those facts alone. For example, there is an association known as the Bilderberg group made up of hundreds of the world’s most wealthy and powerful leaders that meets every few years in secret to discuss global affairs. This is all true and verifiable, but it does not entail that when these people get together, they are plotting world domination. It is true that the Federal Reserve, a private institution, has an absurd amount of control over the U.S. economy and they tamper with interest rates to serve their own economic interests, but it does not follow that they are working towards merging all countries into a singular fascist state with a common currency and dictatorial control over every aspect of the lives of all human beings.

I personally reject these conclusions because I don’t believe that you can put any hundred people in a room together and expect that they’ll all agree on anything. Let alone put hundreds of powerful people from all over the world together and expect them to agree on a common vision for a new world government. Each party has their own national and self-interests, and while many of their goals may be mutual, it’s absurd to think that they have all agreed to one particular structural model for a “New World Order”. When I look at history I see the summation of a multitude of small decisions made by many powerful people for the sake of their own short-term self-interest, rather than one big decision made by a single center of power for the sake of a long-term vision for humanity. If humanity is on a giant ship, I don’t believe there is any person or group of people at the helm. We’re flying blind, not being steered.

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t very powerful unseen hands influencing things in their favor. In fact, you’d be hopelessly naïve not to think so. Many of these hands are even out in the open for all to see—health insurance giants, Wall Street CEOs, and defense contractors are not hiding the fact that they lobby politicians to do their bidding. At least when it comes to Congress, we can see this process in action in the form of campaign contributions. If the American people didn’t have these powerful forces with opposing interests to contend with, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would have ended long ago (or would never have begun in the first place), we’d have an efficient single-payer health-care system, and the middle-class would still exist and be prospering. It has never been clearer than it has been this year that the corporate giants have far more sway and influence over our elected “representatives” than we do.

But what is not seen is how the financial elites exercise their influence within the executive branch. There is certainly communication between them and the White House but we know next to nothing about the channels through which this communication flows, what kinds of deals are made, and just how much sway they actually have over the president. We don’t know how much of Obama’s rhetoric is an expression of his genuine beliefs, and how much is just crafty salesmanship.

We can only look at the results and make an educated guess. So let’s look at them. The stock market continues to rise even as unemployment continues to soar. Wall Street banks are making record profits as people continue to lose their homes and businesses. The health care legislation that was supposed to at least include a public option to compete with the private insurance cartel has been stripped to nothing more than a few extra regulations and a public option so weak that it will basically serve as a dumping ground for the insurance companies’ most expensive clients and therefore cost more than private insurance, and that’s only if it manages to survive at all! I don’t even need to mention the individual mandate that will drive millions of new customers into the hands of the cartel—a huge gift to the industry. And as for foreign policy, just this week it was announced that 30,000 additional troops will be sent to Afghanistan in a last-ditch effort to win an unnecessary war.

It seems that the Powers That Be who got everything they wanted during the Bush administration are still getting everything they want from the Obama administration. This is Change that nobody can honestly believe in anymore

So by all appearances it would seem that Obama has sold out, that he has let himself become a puppet of the very same elites who were pulling Bush’s strings. The question is—what was the price?

As I said, we know nothing about what goes on behind the scenes in the executive branch, so we can’t be sure if Obama, deep in his soul, really believes in his high-minded rhetoric and is just doing the best he can within the existing power-structure, or whether he shares the philosophy of the powerful elites and is happy to serve them. Several months ago I believed that he was just trying to take things slowly, not ruffle too many feathers, and that once he’d been in office a little longer he might start taking the bold steps necessary to really fix the major problems this country is facing. Now I don’t think he’s really trying to fix anything—now I think he’s just trying to keep things exactly as they are to stretch out this unsustainable state of world affairs for as long as it can possibly be sustained.

Up until now I’d given him the benefit of the doubt—I thought he was really trying to improve things, but for all I knew he wasn’t. Now I think he’s not really trying to improve things, but for all I know he is.

For all I know, he really did believe in all the things he said as a candidate and just found once he got into office that he simply couldn’t accomplish them, and that the best he could do with Wall Street was impose a few extra weak regulations, the best he could do with health care was to impose individual mandates, and the best he could do with the military industrial complex was send a few less troops than they asked for and announce an arbitrary date for a withdrawal that probably won’t be abided by anyway. Maybe he really wanted to regulate the banks to prevent future financial crises and bailouts, to make health care affordable and available to everyone, and to end the military conflicts Bush began, but those more powerful than him warned him that unless he was willing to compromise on these things, they would engineer the loss of his presidency or possibly even his life. But now even I’m getting deep into wild-conspiracy-land.

As for conspiracy-theories, it seems there are more about Obama than there are about Area 51, and millions of Glenn Beck-following morons are quick to believe any and all of them—even those that contradict the others. To these people I’d say that you have every right to be angry, that what drives you to get out and protest against your government is a positive force and we’d be a much better country if we were all willing to go that far, but you’re being duped by the very same elites you’re so angry at. They’ve successfully misdirected your anger from where it should be and sent it flying in all different directions, from the president’s secret plot to let his fellow Muslim terrorists take over America, to ACORN’s methodical dismantling of democracy, to the democrats’ secret plans to kill senior citizens and impose mandatory abortions.

Let’s be honest. The government warrants criticism. The president warrants judgment. But if you’re going to judge Obama, don’t judge him on a perception that’s so blatantly false as to be laughable—that he’s some kind of fascist who is rapidly destroying everything America stands for. He’s not changing a damned thing, let alone the fabric of our society. Our society isn’t being suddenly destroyed by a crazed Muslim terrorist from Kenya who hates white people and freedom. It’s being slowly eaten away at by giant corporations who have enlisted Obama—either easily or with some resistance, but in any case quite successfully—to continue advancing their agenda.

So be angry. Judge Obama. But do yourselves a favor and do some research, separate the facts from the lies, the ludicrous conspiracy-theories from the reasonable ones, and judge him for what he really is and what he’s really doing, not whatever you want to believe he’s doing just because you hate him personally.

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