Product of the system

So the choice is, do I avoid linking to stories that, at least to some people, make me look like a bit of a nut, or do I continue to point out stories like this?

For whatever reason, reporters didn’t look all that critically at Obama when he first became a candidate for the nomination. As I’ve said before, reporters in general are lazy and this is not unusual.

But from what I’ve looked into from Obama’s Chicago days, especially the shady deal by which he bought his house and the adjoining land, he’s at least mildly corrupt. Now, that’s not unusual in politics and at least to my pragmatic mind, doesn’t necessarily make you a bad politician (some of the best politicians I’ve ever seen were also famously crooked). The public tends to be a little more forgiving of these things if you’re also championing their interests.

Almost everything he did, though, seemed aimed only at climbing the ladder.

The only thing I can’t figure out is the two years spent as a community organizer. But that explanation might be as simple as, “Okay, I’m broke, I’m working with poor people and now I’m pretty sure I don’t ever want to be one of them.” Who knows? Again, this is all conjecture.

But most laymen have no idea just how corrupt things can get in the political world. (I sure as hell didn’t when I first started covering politics.)

The Republicans who controlled the county where I worked as a reporter were busily recruiting young, well-spoken guys (like the now-congressman Pat Meehan) with good-on-paper credentials into office because the old guys had gotten too obviously corrupt, were attracting the attention of federal prosecutors, and they needed shiny new faces for protective cover. Maybe that happened here.

Most people consider themselves a “good judge of character”, but they’re really not. Because in order to be an accurate judge of character, you have to be willing to look long and hard into the darkest corners of the human psyche, and your average person recoils at that. (Most people’s judgment is limited to how the person treated them. “Maybe he was rotten to you, but he seems like a nice guy to me.”)

Me? I like to look at what unconscious forces drive a person, how far he’s willing to go to get whatever it is that drives him, and why. (Hey, some people like word puzzles – I like this.)

Well, let’s look at the bare facts. We have this young guy from Illinois without much experience who’s suddenly catapulted into the national spotlight, seemingly out of nowhere. His chief of staff is the brother of Chicago’s former mayor, and his BFF Tim Geithner is a creature of Wall Street.

I’m thinking his moral compass might be just a little bit off.

6 thoughts on “Product of the system

  1. “I like to look at what unconscious forces drive a person…” You mean like, um, cash? That’s deep.

    Seriously, though, you gotta stop latching on to these fringe far lefty fantasies. Pretty soon you’re going to look like those radical conspiracy nuts who said the aluminum tubes and the yellow cake were bullshit, and predicted that the financial system would crash into the wreckage of its own unrestrained greed. Being right is not only unacceptable, it is positively disqualifying for admission to the VSP Villagers club. Repeat to yourself… must accept Village Wisdom….must accept Village Wisdom…

  2. Most people’s judgment is limited to how the person treated them. “Maybe he was rotten to you, but he seems like a nice guy to me.”

    meh. The strength or weakness of that statement and it’s purpose depend on the context. As a character statement, “nice guy” is pretty weak. However, it’s more proper usage is to DE-TRIANGULATE, a healthy way to redirect someone to the person/source of their complaint. Sometimes you need a sounding board, but after that, it’s healthy to move the parties toward 1 v 1 discussion. Detente, and eventual rapport, can only happen if someone’s not all bad.

    It’s fascinating, though, to entertain just how one might discern people’s unconscious motives. Sometimes it’s obvious (jeebus, we have a whole economy built on security and greed, and not necessarily in that order). There have been some interesting studies done, such as Erikson’s hierarchies of needs (models that pit one drive vs. another to reveal priority) and social research to parse interplay between fundamental drives like food, shelter, etc. and supposed higher order ones like industriousness, belongingness and generativity.

    The discrete (delineated), building block conceptualization is good for presenting the idea, but I’ve never found it in myself or others to be anything less than a complex picture. It’s like personality research, only murkier. 1) unconscious drives are similar across all people, 2) they are difficult to separate out from environment (what is elicited, evoked, suggested, forced choice, etc.) and 3) people operate within multiple systems and have needs met vicariously, in addition to the drives that are allowable within the roles they play within the systems of which they are a part. This can change from hour to hour even, especially in dynamic environments. Ex. in meeting A, your team is the winner but the project did not cultivate your strengths. In meeting B, your team lost, but your nAch (need to achieve) was met, because you were in a role that harnessed the best you had to give.

    It’s great stuff to ponder though. And once I’m done, the LA Times crossword is a nice break ; )

  3. btw, don’t know if you’ve had a chance to read any of the latest brain research on this stuff (“unconscious” motives and the amygdala). It’s fascinating. If they are correct, the basic drives are e-motions that move us towards or away from things in our environment (which again brings up the question of what is in our environment). The four drives are: dread, rage, euphoria, and attraction; each one theorized as an evolutionary holdover due to its survival value.

    But wait, that’s not all. For the past several decades, researchers have been developing ways to evoke these “unconscious” motives through electromagnetic forces. First through direct contact with the brain, then through external fields and a combination of internal and external influences. So just fyi, if anyone’s going to discern anything, you need to know all the possibilities before going about developing attributions and theories. It’s a jungle out there!

  4. Being a community organizer was a way to get his college loans forgiven. That way he did not have to spend years paying them off. This is also why future financial traders are attracted to Teach for America, taking a job in an inner city school is a way of getting your loans forgiven.

  5. I was once involved in helping to set up and run a non-profit that recruited and trained volunteers to advocate in court for children in abuse cases. There was very little money to keep it going. Early on, it looked like we were going to have to fold when somebody connected us up with a guy who had retired to our town who was an old time political “fixer” – a pollster, lobbyist, ward heeler, whatever you want to call him. Apparently part of his stock in trade was keeping dossiers on the politicians in the state capital to use as leverage for favors.

    Anyhow this guy had a rough childhood and a soft spot for hard up kids, so he decided to help us out. He made some calls and got us a check for $5,000 from the “Governor’s Contingency Fund” that tided us over to the next session of the legislature when he went down to the capital an got us some kind of earmark for some more money. So he did us a lot of good and helped kids.

    But then we needed a part-time secretary, and he had a daughter who needed a job. And then he suggested a couple of his friends to sit on our board of directors. And then pretty soon they voted to give our part-time employees paid sick days and vacation days. And then pretty soon we had call forwarding so she could stay home and answer the phone and “work from home”. But we were then paying her part of the money he got for us, and she wan’t doing the work. It was kind of his cut off the appropriation he got for us.

    And then he thought we could have a big fund raising dinner, and the guest of honor should be our member of the house of delegates and he invited a bunch of other politicians. And, so on, and so on. Eventually he and his wife got mad about something and the money was cut off.

    This is how they get you entrapped. Even starting out wanting to do good, they come and tell you how much MORE good you could do if you play along. Then they offer you things you need and get to depend on. And pretty soon you are one of them.

    I don’t think that Obama is a bad man, necessarily. He’s just one who likes to get along and have nice things and he wants to think he is doing good but people just don’t understand and appreciate it.

    By the way, the whole thing went under soon after that.

Comments are closed.