Archive for December 2008
… and all through the nation, not a heart wasn’t beating, without anxiety and foreboding.
It was in the late 20th century — specifically, 1946 to December 25, 2008 — that the cult known as “Retailia” (pr. re-TAIL-ia) flourished throughout the world. Especially within America.
Interestingly, the rise and fall of Retailia tracked almost exactly with the rise and fall of the American Empire. Although this Empire was the shortest in the history of all world empires known before it, no other empire before it enjoyed quite the reach that the ubiquitous and incandescent American one did.
I remember spending December 25, 1998 in New Delhi, India. New Dehli is about 99% Hindu, with the remaining 1% spread among Muslims, Buddhists, and the Christian underclass who clean the homes of the well-to-do Hindus.
As I walked through the central roundabouts of the city, I was amazed to see everywhere the markings of the American Retailia. It seemed that every store window boasted a picture of the Retailian talisman known in those days as “Santa Claus”.
Now comes Bernie Madoff. I’m now announcing something even more profound: Obama and Madoff will be remembered in history as the symbols for the end of Blackness and Jewishness, respectively, as attributes that separate these groups from the “rest of us”.
It has occurred to me over the past couple of years that America, which is truly an historic melting pot, beyond culture, and untethered from history, still had two persistent minorities (blacks and Jews). Two signs that these two groups were persistent minorities was the following:
- the children of members of these groups would automatically be considered members of the group. And the process for these children to “opt out of the group” was painful (ie. “You mean you’re not one of us anymore?”); and
- each group was richly defined by its own specific, ubiquitous language, food, philosophy, habits, etc. — distinct from the polyglot, un-culture, void that is America.
Before Obama, Blacks were already the source of entertainment (i.e. music, sports) in our nation. Now, with Obama, that group is the source of the soon to be greatest POTUS of the past century. This output is extraordinary for a group that comprises only about 10% of the population.
As for Jews, who comprise only about 2% of the population, the influence of that group on the nation is truly astounding. Google about it and be amazed.
The Blagojevich corruption case is a gift that just keeps on giving when it comes to food for thought. Here’s my next one:
Obama is Teflon Man
At the close of 2008 in America, teflon power is more valuable than the power to be invisible, bend steel bars by hand, read minds, run faster than a steaming locomotive, or fly. Today, telfon power is the uber-power.
This is because in these dark days, when the shit is hitting the proverbial fan, it’s a very, very good thing if none of it can stick to you.
But although the Blagojevich case hints at the darker forces controlling American politics, at bottom, this case is really just about a ring of small-time criminals. It’s a purely local thing. Kind of a “King Rat” dynamic, having little or no repercussions outside the prison camp known as Chicago politics.
As I’ve blogged about, Obama, who was born in the middle of that prison camp, comes out untouched, smelling even better than before. Amazing! It’s Teflon Man!
But that got me thinking even deeper. You see, Obama was only a one-term senator with two years still left on the clock when we voted him in as POTUS. Before that, he was a small-fry Illinois legislator. Before that, a professor.
He moved so fast up the political ladder, he has never even been an incumbent in an election.
“So what?” you say. I say: “That’s the whole ballgame right there!” You see, once we leave the local muck of small-time Chicago politics, and we move up to the national level, we leave behind the petty, local villains, and we now face the twin arch villains of American politics.
I was reading the latest New York Times piece on the Blagojevich case. Man, the closer you look at that case, the more interesting it becomes. One theme of this latest article I read was the notion that this “scandal” “could not have come at a worse time” for Obama.
I disagree! As I’ve blogged about today, in this corruption case, Obama comes away looking even cleaner than before. You can’t do any better than when the defendant is recorded as being pissed with you because you won’t go along with his criminal schemes.
But I think this case could not come at a better time for this nation. Obama didn’t need the extra scrubbing of himself that this case will provide him. He’s beyond all that.
No. This case is important to this nation. It comes down to the tagline of this entire blog: “… for the money has gone too far”. That tagline is mostly about how our waking life in America is dominated by multinational corporations “who” couldn’t give a shit whether we live or die so long as we pay them.
One side effect of this is that these corporations own the government. The entire government is a “pay for play” system.
This Blagojevich case is about one man — a governor — treating his entire job as playing the role of “payee” in a statewide “pay for play” system. What he did last month concerning the Obama Senate seat — all recorded under wiretap — is astonishing because it was well known he was being investigated by the FBI.
Friends have asked me over the past month what I thought about Obama appointing all of these old Clinton-type people to his cabinet. Didn’t this mean he was reneging on his promise of “change”?
“No”, I would answer. The similarity between Obama and Bill Clinton is that they are both highly intelligent. The difference is that Obama has a vision, and some reasonably firm principles, whereas Clinton stood for nothing other than himself. Clinton showed this during his two terms, and he showed it in spades in his behavior after he left office, especially during this past election.
What this means is that Obama will lead these strong politicos, and mold their actions to his vision, while politely listening to them. All of the great presidents have done this.
Now, that idea seems so obvious to me it didn’t seem worth blogging about. But then Illinois Governor Blagojevich got arrested for corruption yesterday. We learn that Obama was close enough to the situation to make this the biggest front page story on the New York Times for the past 48 hours.
What does that corruption case have to do with Obama’s cabinet picks?
In a sign of glorious things to come from Mr. Obama, the most interesting item to come out of that corruption case involving the Illinois governor is the governor’s wiretapped comment about Obama:
That governor was referring to what the Obama camp was willing to give to the governor in return for the governor appointing Obama advisor Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s soon-to-be-vacated Illinois Senate seat. That New York Times article linked to above notes that the Illinois governor cursed Obama with frustration about this “low ball” offer.
This dynamic reminds me of how President Bush and Vice President Cheney reacted immediately on 9/11 upon first learning of the events of that morning.