Glen Ford/Jill Stein: Obama Unmasked/Un-'Matrixed'
In his 2000 work “Escaping the Matrix: Are You Ready for the Red Pill?” Richard Moore begins:
The defining dramatic moment in the film The Matrix occurs just after Morpheus invites Neo to choose between a red pill and a blue pill. The red pill promises "the truth, nothing more." Neo takes the red pill and awakes to reality--something utterly different from anything Neo, or the audience, could have expected. What Neo had assumed to be reality turned out to be only a collective illusion, fabricated by the Matrix and fed to a population that is asleep, cocooned in grotesque embryonic pods. In Plato's famous parable about the shadows on the walls of the cave, true reality is at least reflected in perceived reality.
Most of us expect rhetoric from politicians, and take what they say with a grain of salt. But as my own picture of present reality came into focus, "grain of salt" no longer worked as a metaphor. I began to see that consensus reality--as generated by official rhetoric and amplified by mass media--bears very little relationship to actual reality. "The matrix" was a metaphor I was ready for.
This perspective on the political process, and on the roles of left and right, is very far from reality. It is a fabricated collective illusion. Morpheus tells Neo that the Matrix is "the world that was pulled over your eyes to hide you from the truth....As long as the Matrix exists, humanity cannot be free." Consensus political reality is precisely such a matrix.
In other words, we, the majority of American citizens, sleep-walk around in a collective “surreality” lost to a toxic mythology, product of the collusion of “officialdom” and corporate media.
Consensus political reality was certainly on steroids Inauguration Day. The following are some anti-”matrixed Obama” commentaries from Glen Ford and Jill Stein.
First, compelling imagery from Glen Ford, executive editor of Black Agenda Report, in “The White House Un-Reality Show” depicting Obama and his relationship with vast numbers of so-called progressives still waiting for and trusting in the political and social transformation the Obama of 2008 promised:
Like an abusive spouse who preys on the emotional desperation and dependency of his domestic victim, Barack Obama knows that all he need do is offer some cheap street corner flowers and a few sweet words, and the previous nights and months and years of beatings will be forgiven. Just hum a bar or two of an old, shared song, and the battered partner will supply a full symphony of Barry White’s Love Unlimited Orchestra – because she needs to hear it, if only inside her own head.
After four years of chasing Republican skirts in search of a grand austerity bargain; of debauching himself in marathon binges of global lawlessness and aggressive war; of defiling the Bill of Rights through preventive detention and massive domestic spying; of callous neglect of the jobs and lost wealth crisis afflicting the most loyal members of his political family; and of brazen cavorting with the vile and filthy rich, sheltering them from incarceration for crimes against the national and global economy, Barack Obama slunk home on the morning of January 21, to be smothered with kisses.
Ford challenges “Second Incarnation Obama’s” declaration concerning war: “A decade of war is now ending.” Ford asserts that if Obama is referring to Afghanistan that is a “damnable lie.” Combat involvement is not ending in Afghanistan and won’t be. Only the troop levels will change.
But history may record Obama’s greatest crime against peace as changing the definition of war. According to his unique doctrine, the U.S. cannot be in a state of war, or even “hostilities” with another people or country, unless Americans are killed in the process. Thus, Obama refused to report to the U.S. Congress under the War Powers Act following eight months of bombardment of Libya, claiming no state of war had existed since no Americans had died. By this logic, the U.S. is empowered to bomb anyone, anywhere on the planet at will, without the constraints of national or international law, as long as care is taken to protect the lives of U.S. personnel.
Obama rhetorically abolishes war while promulgating a doctrine of general immunity from the rules of war. Armed with such a concept and vocabulary, he can proceed with the militarization of Africa policy, his “pivot” to contain the Chinese in the Pacific, the terror campaign in Syria, the virtual state of war against Iran, and update of his Kill List in perpetuity. What, then, is the president’s meaning when he tells hundreds of thousands on the National Mall that “enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war?” This, from a man who makes war on language, itself.
As for Obama’s boasting that “An economic recovery has begun” Ford discloses that for Blacks the official unemployment rate is a whopping 14 percent, more than 2 times that of whites. The median income for Blacks is one-twentieth that of whites. The real recovery, Ford discloses, is confined to Wall Street, “awash with cash”. Ford:
... This administration’s jobs policy, like the Republicans’, consists almost entirely of tax incentives to business: trickle down. The One Percent’s “rising tide” has lifted only their yachts.
Ford addresses Obama’s reference to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security: “…a great nation must care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst hazards and misfortune.” “Cheap rhetoric” Ford declares, “signifying nothing.” Obama has every intention of slashing all three programs and Ford accuses progressives applauding Obama’s speech as “encouraging Obama’s gaming and mendacity.”
Ford dismisses the rest of Obama’s socially concerned posturing in launching his 2013 onward reign:
And so it goes. The Great Deporter becomes the great protector of immigrant rights. The man who killed the Kyoto Agreement is heralded as a champion of the environment because he expresses respect for “science” and pledges to somehow “respond to the threat of climate change.” The mention of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s name signifies…what? Nowadays, not a thing.
Jill Stein, presidential candidate for the Green Party in 2012, has this to say in “STEIN: The real Obama emerges, again”:
Obama’s abandonment of his progressive base repeats 2008 post-election history, when the hope-and-change candidate suddenly devolved into a fearless defender of economic privilege. His early White House appointments of Wall Street darlings Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner were followed, with breath-taking irony, by the naming of General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt, America’s leader in layoffs, to head the jobs council.
Team Obama then led the charge for trillions in Wall Street bailouts, corporate-driven trade agreements that send jobs overseas and depress U.S. wages, health care reform that locked public options out of the debate, drill-baby-drill energy policies, the sabotage of international climate accords, foreclosure neglect, surging immigrant deportations, drone attacks, assaults on civil liberties, and more.
As Obama’s second term begins, he’s again undermining the progressive base, paving the way for more austerity, disparities, war and corporate power.
Stein enumerates the latest Obama betrayals and their impact:
1) By making most Bush tax cuts permanent, he gave away the massive bargaining chip he could have used to protect safety net programs in the next negotiating round.
2) Estate taxes have been repealed for all but the wealthiest 0.1 percent with a whopping $10.5 million per couple exemption.
3) The agreement locks in low capital gains and dividends rates of 15-20 percent, ensuring that billionaire bosses everywhere will pay lower tax rates than their secretaries.
4) Among new corporate favors, the deal retained one of the loopholes that multinational firms are using to dodge taxes on their foreign subsidiaries — an incentive to export jobs that cost us $1.1 billion in 2012.
5) Meanwhile, vulnerable workers are hit with a big increase in Social Security payroll taxes, as rates revert to 2010 levels.
6) Obama’s token tax increase on wealthy households earning over $450,000 per year marks a brazen retreat from his promise to raise taxes on those earning over $250,000, a meager reform to begin with in a tax system already rife with favors for the rich.
7) Obama proposed alarming cuts to key safety net programs that will be considered in upcoming negotiations.
8) This tossed aside another key promise: to protect Social Security. It comes as nearly half of Americans are either low-income or living in poverty, and one in three seniors relies on Social Security to stay out of poverty.
Obama gave Michelle a spin on the dance floor, after giving Americans one hell of a spin (once again) from behind the podium.
Matrix-ed Americans better wake up.
[cross-posted on open salon]