A look in the mirror

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Published : November 13th, 2012
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( 33 votes, 2.8/5 ) , 6 commentaries
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Category : Editorials





The verdict is apparently in: if Fox News will replace its current heraldic theme music with a mariachi band, and Sean Hannity puts on a sombrero for his nightly broadcast prayer circle, then the Republican Party will once again rule the land...

...Not - in the immortal word of Borat Sagdiyev.

The so-called Grand Old Party now faces a fugue of recrimination that could end in its demise. The party marginalized itself by becoming an alliance of corporate oligarchs with poorly-educated Southern suburban white trash religious fanatics, both using each other to browbeat the nation into transforming itself into kleptocratic theocracy. There are no more people of good will and intelligence left in that camp, and a blame-fest between its two remaining factions can only lead to a death struggle.

The beginning of the end really came with the death of William F. Buckley in 2008. Buckley labored for years to keep the John Birch Society and its agents out of the GOP's leadership circles. For those of you unacquainted with this organization, it was a group that coalesced during the early 1950s anti-communist crusade of Wisconsin Senator Joseph McCarthy. The Birchers named themselves after an obscure American soldier and Baptist missionary executed by the Red Army in China during the final months of World War Two. The group was founded and funded by Robert Welch, a Boston candy manufacturer (Junior Mints, Sugar Daddy) tormented by conspiracy fantasies. Another founding board member was Fred Koch, father of the billionaire Koch brothers, Charles and David, who have become the latter-day sugar daddies of the Republican Party.

The Birchers retailed all kinds of ideological nonsense that made them the butt of ridicule during the Camelot days of John F. Kennedy and the heady Civil Rights years of his successor Lyndon B. Johnson. (Bob Dylan wrote a song about them in 1962: "Talkin' John Birch Paranoid Blues.") Everything perceived to be a threat in a changing society was sold by the Birchers as a communist plot - water fluoridation, de-segregation, even, by a kind of tortured logic, the US strategy in the Vietnam War. Since a Democratic president and congress passed the civil rights legislation of 1964-5, the traditionally Democratic "solid South" revolted almost overnight and eventually turned solidly Republican. (It was also good for business.)

Something else was going on in Dixieland from the late 1950s on. The region boomed economically, partly from luring northern industry down with cheap labor, and partly because so many large military bases were located there - hence the hyperbolic, militant patriotism of a region that had lately staged a violent insurrection against the national government. The region also went through an explosion of air-conditioned suburban sprawl because the southern states were geographically huge and the climate was unbearable half the year. The sprawl industry itself generated vast fortunes and widespread prosperity in a part of the country that had been a depressed agricultural backwater since the Civil War.

Consequently, a population of poor, ignorant crackers crawled out of the mud and dust to find themselves wealthy car dealers and strip-mall magnates in barely one turn of a generation. The transition being so abrupt, their cracker culture of xenophobia, "primitive" religion, and romance with violence came through intact. They were the perfect client group for a political party that styled itself "conservative," as in maintaining the old timey ways. Toward the end of the 20th century, as the old northern states' economies withered, and Yankee culture lost both footing and meaning, and poor white folks all over America looked with envy on the glitz of country music and Nascar, and gravitated toward the Dixieland culture of belligerent, aggressive suburbanization, religiosity, and militarism. This cartoon of the old timey ways swept the "flyover" precincts of the nation. Along in the baggage compartment was all the old John Birch Society cargo of quasi-supernatural ideology that appealed so deeply to people perplexed by the mystifying operations of reality. That perplexity was supposedly resolved in a Bush II White House aide famously stating, "We make our own reality." The results of the 2012 election now conclusively demonstrate the shortcomings of that world-view.

And so the news last week was that a different version of America outvoted the John Birch Dixiecrat coalition by roughly two million ballots. Meaning, of course, that there are still a lot of dangerous morons out there, but also that the times they are yet a'changin' again. I am personally glad that Mr. Romney lost because he came across to me as a dangerously hollow, not very smart, pre-cooked personality marinated in cant and opportunism. I'm not so delirious either about the victor, Mr. Obama, though he seems a more reliable character in contrast to his vanquished opponent. I think we can rely on him to not prosecute any misconduct in banking for another four years. But, at least, he's not trying to turn the country into one big prayer circle.

He's surely in for a rough ride in the four years ahead. There is a sickening, heavy sense of foreboding about the seemingly endless financial melodrama. It leads to the bewildering fork in the road at which the split paths lead to two different ways of going broke: savage deflation or turbo-inflation. Either way, you're toast. The gross interventions and arrant accounting fraud that pervade global finance, both in government and in private banking, can only lead to perversity and dysfunction in the operations of money that we depend on to remain civilized.

If America were able to look in a mirror now, it would see an image of a sclerotic society, physically run down, strikingly ugly, and sordid in its cultural programing. It would see an armature for daily life - the drive-in Utopia - with very poor prospects for the future. I don't know if Mr. Obama can get this nation engaged in the great tasks that we have been avoiding for so long: purging corporate money from politics, preparing for post-petroleum reality minus the fantasy that we can just live inside our smart phones, and downscaling and re-localizing economic life. Much of that agenda would seem contrary to the common expectation that Mr. Obama wants ever more government intervention in the economy. The past four years he has seemingly done everything possible to support the status quo - leading a few observers to brand him as a "conservative" - and he still acts like a hostage of the too-big-to-fail banks. I'm not convinced that he'll act decisively for the right things in the right way on anything. At least he won't be running for office again and can act perhaps more freely as he will. Anyway, I subscribe to the sentiment that it was a good thing for the nation to re-elect a leader of mixed-race, to show that we mean it about who is allowed to succeed here.

I spent a lot of time in Dixieland this fall. I can report that its era of hyper-prosperity is on the wane. The boom is pretty much over, except for some deceptive last twitchings over in Texas and in the Northern Virginia beltway counties where lobbyists spawn. The failure of the Republican Party this year marks the end of the economic ascendency of the South. Now they will have to contend with the imminent failure of their suburban way of life and all its comfortable trappings. I've predicted for many years that the process would drive them batshit crazy. When I was in North Carolina in October, I got the odd impression that I was in a giant car dealership masquerading as a state. That's just not going to work anymore. But it remains to be seen whether anything will work in any quarter of this big old country.

One interesting thing is shaping up: a beard-growing contest between Paul Krugman and Ben Bernanke to see who can end up looking most like Rutherford B. Hayes.



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James Howard Kunstler has worked as a reporter and feature writer for a number of newspapers, and finally as a staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine. In 1975, he dropped out to write books on a full-time basis. His nonfiction book, "The Long Emergency," describes the changes that American society faces in the 21st century. Discerning an imminent future of protracted socioeconomic crisis, Kunstler foresees the progressive dilapidation of subdivisions and strip malls, the depopulation of the American Southwest, and, amid a world at war over oil, military invasions of the West Coast; when the convulsion subsides, Americans will live in smaller places and eat locally grown food.
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This guy is pathetic. He tries to smooth over Obama's complete ignorance of fiscal and economic matters. He completely overlooks Obama's drone wars and ripping away of basic liberties. And yet he always portrays anyone who opposes or differs from Obama as "poorly - educated Southern surburban white trash religious fanatics". What a pitiful display of pigheaded ignorance! This man is a FOOL. And a bigoted fool at that! He belittles "crackers" and yet his only skirt with accomplishment of any sort is being a former "staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine". Would anyone care to guess how many people can claim the haughty title of "former staff writer for Rolling Stone Magazine"? What a treasure of credibility.
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The difference between the two major candidates in the presidential election were negligible, their similarities conspicuous: The banksters and brokers who are still in the process of looting our nation most likely would have been rewarded more heartily by Romney; but the Obamarama Show isn't very far behind. None of the thieves would be held accountable by either of them and any preventive measures concerning the seemingly forbidden word, "regulation" (much less punishment and incarceration), would not have been put in place by Romney and in Obama's case, will not be implemented during the life of his administration. The wars would have continued under either of them and the dismantling of the U.S. Constitution would have continued unabated while more draconian repressive measures would continually be signed into law. How do I know this? These realities were barely discussed in the 'debates' and when a politician ignores very crucial and immediate crises one knows that the ongoing methods of addressing these problems will remain firmly in place and will most likely become even more repressive and expansive. The other reason I know what both of them would and are going to do after being elected was studying the remedies put forth by the third party candidates. Though I didn't agree with some of their plans; I did appreciate the fact that they were at least considering addressing our more pressing problems.
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Mostly true, Denny, but there are at least three huge diffrences between the two:
- ONE doesn't hate his country
- ONE doesn't hate free enterprise
- ONE isn't trying to throttle our energy supply

"Obama" Impeachable Offenses (partial listing- tell us more!)

- Illegal Libyan war

- Possible illegal wars in Mali, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan and elsewhere

- Illegal firing of Inspector-General Walpole

- Failure to Enforce immigration law

- Failure to enforce DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act)

- Ignoring two orders to resume Gulf oil drilling permits

- Unreasonably sequestering offshore and federal lands energy development

- Unreasonably inhibiting coal industry and coal-fired power plants

- Ignoring multiple orders to stay Obamacare implementation

- Violating 1st Amendment freedom of religion in implementing Obamacare

- Failing to enforce election laws

- Multiple illegal EPA orders on CO2, enforcement of made-up regulations not backed by Congress

- Illegally overturning Black Panther voter intimidation conviction

- Possibly bribery to buy Obamacare passage votes

- Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal

- Ceding rights over control of our economy to IMF, via “Special Drawing rights”

- Possible complicity in over $16 trillion in illegal commitments by Federal Reserve, involving U.S. obligations

- Felony Document/Identity Fraud

- Circumventing Congressional oversight via unprecedented scope of “Czars” and illegal recess appointments

- Illegal arrest, torture, killing of American citizens, without warrants, charges, habea corpus, trials and other due process

- Multiple illegal “Executive Orders” and “signing statements”

- BenghaziGate treason and cover-up

- Interfering in Kenyan politics, in violation of the Logan Act
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Kunstler's post-election blog trash reveals him for the far left-wing "Progressive" hack he is, full of absurd, slanderous remarks for anyone who opposes him.
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One fact destroys Kunster's credibility as a rational commentator on anything: he voted for Obama in 2008.
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He didn't vote for the loser. ☺ LOL
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Latest comment posted for this article
This guy is pathetic. He tries to smooth over Obama's complete ignorance of fiscal and economic matters. He completely overlooks Obama's drone wars and ripping away of basic liberties. And yet he always portrays anyone who opposes or differs from Obama a  Read more
mauricedc - 11/14/2012 at 1:19 PM GMT
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