America in the Age of Myth

I don’t think that the Google headliners remember that Charles Dederich (of rattlesnake in the mailbox and “Don’t mess with us. You can get killed, dead” fame) was a sort of model for Chavez, who tried to introduce the wacko-bird Synanon Game to his own UFW hierarchy.  No matter, deification of Chavez is now de rigeur; the young generation who idolizes him has almost no knowledge of the man, his life, or his beliefs. It is enough that Bobby Kennedy used to fly into these parts, walk for a few well-filmed hours, and fly out.

When I went to UC Santa Cruz in September of 1971, I remember as a fool picking a box of Thompson seedless grapes from our farm to take along, and soon being met by a dorm delegation of rich kids from Pacific Palisades and Palos Verdes (a favorite magnet area for Santa Cruz in those days) who ordered me not to eat my own grapes on my own campus in my own room. Soon I had about four good friends who not only enjoyed them, but enjoyed eating them in front of those who did not (to the extent I remember these student moralists, and can collate old faces with names in the annual alumni news, most are now high-ups and executives in the entertainment industry).


Our greatest legend is Barack Obama. Liberals believe that he is still the fierce anti-Cheney civil libertarian of 2008, as he institutionalized the idea that drones could target U.S. citizens (as they did in Yemen) and expanded or embraced renditions, preventative detention, tribunals, wiretaps, and intercepts. In our secular bible, Obama still shuns money from Wall Street sorts like Goldman Sachs, follows campaign-financing reform laws, vacations as a man of the people, and has squeezed out of the exploiting classes millions of new jobs for minorities.

There were not 50 consecutive months of 7.8% unemployment (until last month, no one month of the Obama administration saw unemployment lower than in any one month of the Bush administration). What about sluggish GDP, record debt, chronic deficits, unheard of zero interest, vast numbers on food stamps and unemployment and disability insurance? Bush did it.

We all know how this Paul Bunyan legend will end up. The next president, be it Hillary or Marco Rubio or Joe Biden or Rand Paul, will not embrace Obamism. They cannot and have the nation still survive. The federal saddlebags are empty. We will not follow the Obama trajectory to 70 million on food stamps or $30 trillion in debt. Even a President Hillary Clinton would not lecture us that we didn’t build that. We cannot keep printing a trillion dollars through quantitative easing. Interest rates will climb. I don’t think Rand Paul will tell the Tea Party “to punish our enemies” or Hillary Clinton “to get in their faces.”

You see, Obamism is an emotional flight from reality, completely unsustainable to the degree it is a paradigm for anything. It is mythical, this notion of borrowing vast amounts of money to grow government and subsidize a new cadre on government support, or demonizing millions as suspect for their success, or assuming that foreign nations react best to apologies, contextualization, and sermons, or wish to join in the cultural adulation of an American president. Putin could care less. Ditto the North Koreans.

In short, in this mythical age, we all know that Barack Obama won the Nobel Prize, but none of us quite know what for.

Such is what passes for reality in our age of myth.

(Image atop article assembled from multiple components.)