By James Howard Kunstler on August 13, 2012 9:30 AM
At the core of the manifold paradoxes swirling around American
governance is the harsh reality that we just can't keep running our shit
the way it has evolved to run. Neither candidate for president is
honest enough to spell this out and indeed both act as though easy
work-arounds exist for sustaining the unsustainable.
the case of Mr. Obama, it's paying limitless TBTF ransom money to
overgrown banks to avoid the constant threats of collapse that they
whisper in his ear - essentially a hostage racket. A policy of managed
contraction is probably the only way to avoid unmanaged and
uncontrollable collapse, and would include dismantling all the TBTF
banks, but Mr. Obama won't acknowledge the imperative of contraction and
the difficulties it represents. So he stands by hoping that Fed Chair
Bernanke will keep shoveling ZIRP privileges, "twist' ops, bail-outs,
and bond buying interventions to the "primary dealers" - a line-up of
flimflams so abstruse that all the Paul Krugmen-type economists who ever
lived might puzzle over them around the clock until the end of time and
never unravel their inner workings.
subscribes to a set of fantasies out of the Chamber of Commerce playbook
that all the familiar activities of status quo wealth generation could
easily continue via the marvelous invisible hands of unfettered
corporatism, if only the deadweight of government restrictions and the
squandering of borrowed public "money" were swept away. His choice of
running mate, Congressman Paul Ryan, is meant to embody all those
notions -- but more than that appeal to the inchoate mob of Tea Partiers
who want to get the gubment's hands off their goshdarn medicare.
Anyway, the net effect of Mr. Romney's business fantasies are so
inadequate to the contractive forces underway that they would amount to
pissing up the massive rope of history in a hurricane of events.
So, as the election race sets up for its terminal lap, expect a
completely incoherent debate over the fate of the nation from a couple
of characters who personify all the hapless contradictions of the public
they will be pandering to. Romney's story appeals to me a little more
in its strange psychological dimensions; Obama's role as a living,
breathing wish-fulfillment of the liberal imagination is too obvious in
First there is the issue of Mitt's family.
His Dad, George Romney, was among many avatars of big business (it used
to be called) in its post-WW2 heyday, as CEO of American Motors, the car
company that was a clownish fourth to the "big three" of that day (GM,
Ford, and Chrysler). American Motors produced joke cars for losers,
foremost the Rambler, featuring seats that folded down flat with the
implied use as a rolling bedroom. George Romney got himself elected
governor of Michigan at a time when the state was so flush with revenue
it would have been impossible to misgovern - though he set up the
conditions for a later spectacular collapse into the ash-heap of broken
dreams it represents today. He battled Richard Nixon for the Republican
nomination in 1968 and became a laughingstock by claiming he had been
"brainwashed" by US officials and generals into supporting the Vietnam
War on a visit there in 1967. It was an unfortunate remark, coming only a
few years after the release of a popular movie called The Manchurian Candidate, about a Red Chinese plot to use brainwashed Americans to subvert a US presidential election. Game over for George.
So, in this age of creeping dynastic ambition, of Kennedys, Bushes,
Browns, here we have another case of a son reenacting the family
ambition. You'd think the American public would be getting a little sick
of this routine, that is, if we were really the independent and
"exceptional" people we pretend to be. But, alas, here you just get the
worst natural human tendencies to institutionalize social hierarchy
amplified by the idiotic celebrity culture of mass-media, pointing to
the conclusion that we supposed lovers of "freedom" and "liberty" crave
domination by hereditary rulers. The cheekiness of it all by such
"regular guy" phonies like Mitt would be enough to provoke a real
political upheaval in a nation less medicated than ours.
Then there is the question of Mitt Romney's so-called faith, the
preposterous fairy tale called Mormonism. Nobody in the news business
today really wants to state plainly what a laughable package of childish
incongruities this belief system is - though Adam Gopnik came close
recently via a scholarly disquisition in a recent New Yorker that
left out most of the comedy - because it is a cardinal rule of our
anemic culture that any and all belief systems are equally valid. But
the story of Mormon "prophet" Joseph Smith is so rich with inane occult
hustling that the Coen Brothers would be hard pressed to satirize it. Of
course, it is the perfect religion for a man who now vehemently
denounces the very same health care reform policy that he championed a
few years ago as governor of Massachusetts.
in mind that, whatever else is going on out there right now in the
three-ring circus of presidential politics, events are in the driver's
seat, not personalities, and the seeming quiescence of things on the
late summer scene is an illusion that will soon dissipate.
By James Howard Kunstler on August 6, 2012 8:48 AM
A great orgasm shuddered through the money world last week when Mario Draghi paused between scamorza con arugula
tidbits to remark that the European Central Bank (ECB) would stop at
nothing to keep the financial blood of Europe circulating. Of course you
wonder how many pony glasses of Campari he knocked back before that
whopper came out. The markets squirmed with glee. I suppose it feels
good to have quantities of smoke blown up your ass.
is the last month of the Great Pretending over on that lovely continent
of exquisitely preserved towns and the corniche winding down to the
crashing green sea, and the lunch table under the grape arbor... I mean,
compared to, say, the universal slum vista of tilt-up, strip-mall
America along the deafening highways, with the wig shops, tattoo dens,
pawn shacks, dollar stores, parking lot swap-meets, and supersized
citizens waddling through the greasy 100-degree heat of a new climate
regime. When things blow, as you may be sure they will, at least the
Europeans will sink amid all that loveliness while the American
experience will be more like getting flushed down a toilet.
The more you reflect on the Draghi remark, the more you wonder whether
absolutely anyone out there is paying attention to the fact that there
is no money backing up these pledges of continued bailouts. All the
major banks of Europe are functionally insolvent and all of the nations
that charter the banks are structurally insolvent, and the economies
that depend on the circulation of funds around this Euro organism really
cannot escape some sort of cascading collapse. The big unknown element
of the story is how angry and batshit crazy the citizens of all these
countries will get when summer ends. I don't believe they will fight
each other just now, but it is very likely that the lampposts of all
these lovely towns and cities will be decorated with swinging corpses of
bankers, ministers, and a choice selection of politicians while a fight
over the table scraps of a 30-year-long debt banquet occupies the folks
in the streets.
Over on this side of the Atlantic, the
question arises: where are the good guys? Why is there not one national
political figure in the USA who has a comfortable relationship with
truth? Perhaps the elimination of truth in our banking and governing
affairs is so complete now that there is no truth left to have a
relationship with. Or perhaps no American person of integrity believes
in the system enough to defend it. Which raises the corollary question:
where are the brave persons who would oppose this baleful culture of
lies, swindles, and rackets?
I never tire of reminding
readers that life is tragic. Individuals and groups in societies make
bad choices or fail to meet a challenge that history presents. When
persons fail, events take over and lead all persons where events will.
Hence, events will take over the election clown show between an errand
boy and a horse's ass. The distracted, degenerate public of tattooed
soccer moms and men wearing baby clothes have no idea how quickly the
supermarket shelves can go empty. The banking system is headed over
Niagara Falls and it will take all our comforts and conveniences with it
as it goes over.
Generally people prefer order over
chaos, so don't be too surprised if some general in the Pentagon
reluctantly decides that there is no choice but to step in and become
the government. This would be an awful and momentous thing in our
history, but it is exactly what we've asked for with our pornographic
politics of lying, grifting, swindling, and racketeering. What I
describe, of course, is the flip-side of martial law. Once civilians
declare it, things have a tendency to get martial real fast - meaning
that the feckless and hesitant civilians who allowed the situation to
develop get swept out of the way in favor of anyone who can get
something done. And what will have to get done in short order is the
reorganization of a banking system to get money flowing again and the
reopening of supply lines for food and medicine in particular.
This is not an outcome I promote, you understand, but it is the
scenario that a foolish people in a depraved nation are sleepwalking
into. Take away the pizza pockets and the Pepsi and anything can happen.
We may even live to see Mitch McConnell roasted on a spit in some
Kentucky parking lot.
Am just a hack with skilz!
I'm 60, semi-retired, and live in Texas. I have had the pleasure of being in 39 different countries around the world, many of them for extended periods of time.
I am one of those that still believes in the awesome power of film, but increasingly am shooting in digital...I shoot what I like that I see...and am apt to use whatever cam is available to do the job...these days I am usually shooting with a Canon 50D, but still enjoy dragging the large format gear out every now and then...We have a small studio and a full service darkroom here at the house which helps us to keep costs down...
Locally my work has been featured in McKinney Living magazine, Gusto Guide magazine, and Southern Vanity magazine, as well as McKinneyNews.net...