“Why do I rob banks? Because that’s where the money is.” – quote attributed to notorious heistmeister, Willie Sutton
It’s July 1, 2012. We’re rapidly approaching the fourth anniversary of the murder of the American middle class, the Dark Times when our corporate-controlled government, draped in the disguise of democracy, announced in (allegedly) Willie Sutton fashion, that the only way to save the country from financial ruin was to transfer all of our life savings into the offshore bank accounts of the 1%-ers like Jamie “Diamonds” Dimon, Lloyd “Blank Check” Blankfein, Vikram “the Bandit” Pandit, and Ken “Platinum Parachute” Lewis. Distracted by the presidential election circus of 2008, the American citizenry sat passively by as BushCo, having already looted the U.S. Treasury to pay for the administration’s Iraq Follies, decided now that they had gotten theirs, it was the banksters’ turn. The country was forced to watch, locked out of their bank-foreclosed homes as the government rehabilitated these murderers, this time by robbing from the private sector.
Two months later, Barack Obama, the one-term Senator from Illinois whose rhetoric soared (but whose resume was a bit thin on the ground), won the Presidency, beating out the cranky old man who shook his fist at the clouds. Hope and change were in the air. The country was on its way back; no more dry-drunk cowboy presidents cooing “you’re my base” to a bunch of swells at white-tie affairs. No more torture in the name of freedom. Things were going to get better with the new regime. People believed in this Barack Obama fellow.
Well, no, not everyone. Ted Rall, fearless political cartoonist/journalist/writer and enemy of false prophets everywhere, was one of the very few voices questioning whether we had been snookered once again by yet another naked guy strutting around as if he were tricked out in the new Ermenegildo Zegna collection. “Ssshhh, you,” he was warned by pretty much everyone, “stop harshing our mellow. We’re on the right track now. We’re hopeful.” But Rall persisted. As he writes in The Book of O(bama): From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt, he saw nothing new in the latest incarnation of leadership, no grand indicators of change. Our political system is broken beyond repair and we had just elected another career politician who was tasked with the job of maintaining the status quo. Obama, Rall states, is the “downright best president this system is currently capable of producing. The fact that he was nowhere close to being good enough reveals that the problem is not him. . . .The system itself cannot right itself, cannot save itself cannot return to fiscal solvency or moral legitimacy.”
So now what? How do we fix this? Ask Rall. From the streets of war-torn Afghanistan to the corridors of power in ultra-corrupt Uzbekistan to the birth of the Occupy Movement at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., he knows a thing or two about the efficacy of revolutions that play by the rules. The Book of O(bama), both an infuriating and scathingly funny journey through American psyche during the first (and perhaps only) term of President Obama, is not a call to arms per se, it is a call to take responsibility for our decisions and to challenge the idea that our current, corrupt system is the only way democracy can function.
It is with great joy–and yes, even a smidge of hope–that I welcome Ted Rall to Firedoglake.
[As a courtesy to our guests, please keep comments to the book and be respectful of dissenting opinions. Please take other conversations to a previous thread. – bev]