My irregular musings on city life, politics, baseball, roller derby, and whatever happens to be getting my goat today.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Apparently they're giving them out like Halloween candy now

You could call it a WTF moment. I mean, I like Barack Obama and all, really I do. But a Nobel Peace Prize? For what? He hasn't done anything yet. His goals are right on, and if he managed a peaceful resolution to the Iran nuclear confrontation, finds a way to get out of Afghanistan without it collapsing back into full scale civil war, negotiates an arms reduction treaty with Russia, passes climate change legislation and negotiates a global climate treaty, and facilitates a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East creating a Palestinian state, then yeah, sure I suppose he'd deserve to be a Nobel laureate. But he hasn't done any of that stuff yet, and do you really believe all of those things will actually get done? Because I didn't think the prize was just for good intentions.

Hell, in some ways Bush had fairly good intentions too, his means were just awful and anti-human. The President of the United States has a lot of power to make things better, so a lot should be expected before you give one a Nobel. I mean, aren't we still at war? Aren't we still holding a bunch of "detainees" we basically kidnapped and now have no idea what to do with, at Guantanamo and CIA facilites around the planet? Or did that change in the past week while I've been too preoccupied with the baseball playoffs and my own health issues and vacation plans to pay any attention to the news?

The President himself, from my inbox:
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize -- men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.

But I also know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement; it's also been used as a means to give momentum to a set of causes.

That is why I've said that I will accept this award as a call to action, a call for all nations and all peoples to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
I'm glad he realizes he doesn't deserve it, but I wish he had declined it, saying, "I am puzzled by this decision" or something like that. It's not that I don't like Obama or support most of his goals, I just think giving the award out like this devalues the award more than honors the recipient.

I understand that you have to give out the Oscar every year even when there were no good movies, and maybe nobody has done that much for peace in the last year. It's certainly possible, you certainly hear a lot more about people blowing stuff up than working for peace. But obviously, if stuff is on fire, the media will be there. But I don't think that changes my point, if you give the award out without it being earned, then you end up devaluing the award.

Friday, October 02, 2009

It's Official. We Suck.

Photobucket Where's Mine?

Wow, wasn't expecting that. After all that buildup and the Olympics issue dominating local political discussion for months, we don't even make the final round. Not even sure what to say about this as I started the day really expecting to win. I'm not sure why, a week ago I would have told you, "it's Rio, silly," but this week I've been feeling certain it was going to happen.

Sorta like this time last year when I thought the Cubs were going to take the pennant for sure.

Here in Chicago, there will be ramifications, a loss of confidence in the city's future, and questions about whether our Mayor for Life will actually run again in 2011 (I'm guessing yes, after a period of introspection). And that was a lot of money that won't get spent here, I was hopeful that an Olympics would lead to increased federal spending on infrastructure here. Probably that was a pipe dream anyway.

On the national stage, however, this is probably a good thing for the Obama administration, since the Chicago 2016 was basically a committee of Obama's friends and political backers. Any scandal or inefficiency or delay or nepotism would have been dragged around by the Right and the Press in an attempt to sully the President's reputation with it. Too much cronyism could have been turned into Obama's Whitewater scandal. Now Chicago 2016 as a story will die out in a few weeks. Not that I think the bid was more corrupt than any other - Madrid's bid was headed by former IOC chairman Juan Antonio Samaranch Torelló, Marquess of Samaranch, a former Franco crony who's no stranger to scandal (remember how Salt Lake City bought the games in 2002?). The reason Madrid lasted so long was basically that Samaranch has more clout with the IOC than just about any other figure, and his personal appeal carried more weight than Obama and Lula da Silva put together. So why did Madrid fail to win if they were so connected? Probably their bid was not good enough on the merits.

And the same was true of our bid. Honestly, it lacked vision. Daniel Burnham, the author of the 1909 Plan of Chicago who is regarded as a founding father hereabouts, is famous for saying "make no little plans" (among other things). But this plan, it was little. Since Burnham's day, Chicago has been home to Big Architecture, and its build environment is marked (some might say blighted) by all of the architectural ideas that have come and gone since - Louis Sullivan, Frank Lloyd Wright, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Stanley Tigerman, Rem Koolhaas, and all of their pallid imitators. Beijing was almost a dare, with its Water Cube and Bird's Nest. But the Chicago 2016 bid, as it was, lacked vision, and lacked the memorable design that would impress our image on the world. Instead, we got a low budget bid with a disposable stadium and largely existing facilities and infrastructure. We weren't even proposing much in the way of enhancements to public transit. And I'm telling your, our transportation infrastructure can't even handle a Cubs game and a drizzle at the same time. The Olympics? Fageddaboudit.

So, it's probalby sour grapes, but I'm feeling like maybe it's better not to win rather than to be unfavorably compared to Beijing.

Today's earworm: Chicago by the Tossers has been stuck in my head all day. For a song I have only heard once, live, it sure is sticky.