I am absolutely reeling with shock that Chicago was knocked out in the first round and the 2016 Olympics are going to Rio de Janeiro. Some quick thoughts about Victoria Brasilia and the Chicago/Daley/Obama humiliation.
1 - This is a victory for the people of Chicago. Pushing back against immense pressure from the Daley political machine, organizations like No Games Chicago went grass roots, corner to corner, and spoke out against the Olympic storm of gentrification, tax hikes, and police misconduct. Certainly one reason the U.S. got the high hat was the lingering bad taste of George W. Bush. The global community, after eight years of sneering contempt from Washington DC, isn't ready to rinse with the Obama mouthwash.
But it's the community activists of Chicago who should feel tremendously gratified. They -- along with the millions of Chicagoans who expressed their trepidation in polls -- saved their city. They have every right to say with pride, "THAT'S the Chicago way!"
2 - Barack Obama may not be feeling it, but he is the luckiest man alive right now. Yes, President Obama traveled all the way to Copenhagen and didn't even get a lousy t-shirt, but he is damn fortunate it went down like it did. Obama is the first U.S. President to ever appear before the International Olympic Committee and plea for the games. If they had come to the Windy City, it would have been an eight-year distraction and political gold for his opponents. Every time an Olympic project came in late and over budget, every time a scandal hit the tabloids, every time a crime was captured on a cell phone camera it would have been "Obama's Olympic Folly." Imagine Rush Limbaugh or Glen Beck oozing over to Chicago with every blip in the process. It would have all been at best a distraction and at worst, and endless spigot of champagne for his enemies. The person who really has egg on his face is Mayor Richard Daley. He wanted to show everyone he was a bigger man -- and mayor -- than his Daddy with an Olympic sized stadia to boot. Now expect all the Daley arm-twisting and all the dirty skulduggery in the lead up to both come to light and come home to roost.
3 - This is no time for NIMBY. NIMBY of course means not in my back yard. The No Games Chicago movement has a responsibility right now to do a helluva lot more than just cheer their triumph. Now is the time to stand with the people of Rio. It's no secret why the IOC licked their lips at the thought of Brazil. Like China, Brazil is an emerging market yet to be fully "branded" by global multinationals. They also have a police force that shoots first and asks questions never. Their President Lula, who comes from a radical union background, has clearly shown the decrepit, corrupt, IOC Mafiosi that he is willing to play ball. If history is any kind of a guide, the pain for Brazil's working people is now on the immediate horizon. It's our duty to do whatever we can to express solidarity with the favelas, the landless peasants, and the workers about to stare down the barrel of "Olympism." Our work has just begun.
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