Are we entering an era of ubuntu?
Barry Obama‘s apparent victory over Hillary Clinton helps loosen a painful 16-year headlock on Americans.
Practically all that’s standing in his way is John McCain. At least McCain is wiser than George W. Bush. But then, who isn’t? McCain, however, is a supporter of contining the disastrous Iraq War. But then, who is?
“Enough already!,” the New York Jew part of me says. “Git your goldurn hands offa my neck!,” the Oklahoma born-and-raised part of me says.
There’s still a lot of unfinished bidness before those icy fingers are finally pried off. The most ominous threat to Obama’s chances is the closet racism of many (mostly older) members of the American electorate. The most ominous threat to real change if Obama wins? Hillary.
Word to Obama: Don’t appoint Hillary to head your committee to pick a running mate.
The last time that happened, in the summer of 2000, Dick Cheney picked himself as the veep candidate, and he wound up running the government — pulling doofus George W. Bush‘s strings the way ventriloquist Jeff Dunham operates his woozle named Peanut.
Actually, Bush is more like Melvin, a puppet described by Dunham as “a mild-mannered, no-real-power superhero who wants to save our country from evil.”
Hillary wouldn’t wind up running the White House if she were a veep in an Obama administration, but she would still have a bully pulpit to schnorr America.
The Yiddish terms “schnorrer” and “momzer” you’re wondering about?
A schnorrer is a sponger, living off others, the way Hillary did for years as a governor’s wife and even in the White House by accumulating power only because she was Bill’s wife. Then she became senator only because of her celebrity as a president’s wife and her weak opponent (Rick Lazio). Hubby Bill is the prime post-presidential schnorrer, traveling the world to make speeches and raking in millions by charging as much as $500,000 a pop.
Groucho Marx, also highly paid as the all-time best schnorrer on screen, admitted it in a call-and-response crowd scene song in Animal Crackers (1930):
Groucho: Did someone call me schnorrer?
Crowd: Hooray, hooray, hooray!
Strictly speaking, a momzer (or mamzer) is a bastard (literally and figuratively). The OED adds: “Also in extended uses as a term of abuse or familiarity.”
Sixteen years of the Clintons and Bush-Cheney? Isn’t that enough abuse and familiarity?
Loosely and commonly, a momzer is also a sponger, but more of a mean-spirited one. As the OED (borrowing from the Dictionary of American Slang) puts it: “one who borrows frequently, or who expects much attention and many favors.”
Slang aside, the Clintons weren’t nearly as destructive of human life as Bush-Cheney have been, but Billary did remove some of the best linchpins of the Democratic Party’s New Deal. For example, Billary supported repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. (See my February 2005 item.) Thanks to that repeal, banks could acquire subprime lenders and form conglomerates that, as we see now, are tanking.
And thanks to the Telecommunications Act, also during the Clinton reign, further media consolidation was guaranteed.
Last but not least harmful, Hillary Clinton’s health-care “reform” task force, early in the Clintons’ reign, was a disaster.
The former First Lady of Wal-Mart (see my May 23, 2000 story during Hillary’s first Senate race) and corporate litigator in Arkansas, she litigated on behalf of corporate America against Americans immediately after the Clintons moved into the White House by taking national health insurance, the single-payer type, off the table, much to the dismay of some key supporters.
And she ran the task force is the same secretive, corporate-friendly way that Dick Cheney later ran the energy task force when the Bush regime took over the White House.
Other than keeping Hillary off the Democratic ticket, Obama would be well-advised to follow the lead of Glenn “Doc” Rivers, the coach of the Boston Celtics, who are getting ready to face the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals.
Rivers has apparently instilled the African philosophy of ubuntu into his Celtics in an attempt to shape unity. In its short form politically, as a Wiki entry puts it, “the concept of ubuntu is used to emphasize the need for unity or consensus in decision-making, as well as the need for a suitably humanitarian ethic to inform those decisions.”
“Ubuntu” as a philosophy outside of basketball generally means “humanity toward others,” as even a definition of the word now widely used in the high-tech world notes.
The Wiki entry on the philosophy of ubuntu, as opposed to the high-tech world’s use of the term, leans on Stanlake J. W. T. Samkange‘s description of “the three maxims of Hunhuism or Ubuntuism which shape this philosophy”:
And “the second maxim means that if and when one is faced with a decisive choice between wealth and the preservation of the life of another human being, then one should opt for the preservation of life”.
The third “maxim” is a “principle deeply embedded in traditional African political philosophy,” saying ‘that the king owed his status, including all the powers associated with it, to the will of the people under him’.
Bill Clinton paid lip service to “ubuntu” in a 2006 speech in England, but lip service was all it was. He was actually being his usual schnorrer self, making one of his highly paid speeches that helped fund Hillary’s futile presidential bid.
When you think of someone like Obama replacing Bush and Billary, think of Linux replacing Windows.
Ubuntu first entered the Western world lexicon as the name of the most easily accessible version of Linux, the computer operating system that provides a fresh, clean change from Windows.
As a philosophy both in the high-tech world and in society as a whole, ubuntu stands for open-source relations among people. And Obama presents the possibility of, as a major example, a major change in race relations.
That’s the kind of operating system that people hope for from Obama.