Monday, February 29, 2016
Kunstler: Going Full Whig.
Hillary’s dumb riposte to Trump’s dumb slogan — make America great again! — was “…America never stopped being great.” I guess she’s been traveling around the strip-mall wastelands of Carolina failing to notice the carnage that lays upon this land like a mortal scrofula. America has been committing suicide by bad choices for decades.
We took the collateral winnings of World War II and poured it into a suburban sprawl alt-universe so depressing that our citizens are the most over-medicated people in the world. That alone might help to explain how Hillary and Trump lumber inevitably toward their respective nominations. The cheering “folks” marshaled out in the Piggly Wiggly parking lots are so buzzed on Klonopin and Zoloft that they can’t tell how these two odious celebrities epitomize the very forces behind their pharmaceutically-masked despair.
A nation sunk in such falsity is sure to suffer life-threatening blowback and it looks like the first thing to go will be the life of the political parties. Both Democrats and Republicans have gone full Whig, riding into the 2016 election on the garbage barge of history. Hillary went on hyper-gloat after last week’s South Carolina primary, where she stuffed her pander-bag with black votes reaped on empty promises to re-boot the Civil Rights era. It was painful to watch that get-me-outa-here smile stretched across her face as she hugged the last selfie-snapper and slouched toward the ordeal of Super-Tuesday.
I don’t care how many primary victories Trump racks up, the GOP poobahs will not support him going into the convention. They will crack the party up into warring factions before they let him hoist the gonfalon of Lincoln and the Gipper. Be warned: plans are already afoot to shove Trump aside, to derail him with some scandal easily excavated from a life spent greasing other pols and playing ball with the mob-riddled construction industry in New York, Jersey, and Nevada. Failing that, they’ll leave him with a gutted shell of the party apparatus and by-hook-or-crook get some other figure to make a well-funded run under a slightly altered banner: Paul Ryan, Bloomberg [he's planning to run independently--P.Z.], Romney, just maybe Kasich. The Koch brothers will organize the money mojo. Failing that, there is always the mysterious magic of the Deep State for winning friends and influencing history.
This is not to endorse the old Republican establishment, just saying that they are increasingly desperate to derail this monster of their own creation, and will go to institutionally suicidal lengths to get it done. It will be more than another election cycle, if ever, before the right-of-center portion of the US political spectrum can realign itself into something resembling a party.
Or perhaps this is America’s true imperial moment, when all party politics surrenders to the pre-tsunami undertow of events. None of the idiot network commentators or Wash-Po or NY Times columnists seem to notice that the global economy is sinking into a coma, and in so doing is igniting cluster-bombs of default through the financial system. That so far insidious destruction should effloresce exactly around the time of the nominating conventions. The tide will have visibly gone miles out just as Hillary mounts the podium like some bad joke of a national mommy and Trump sits fretting in his Cleveland hotel room wondering how his rococo dreams of glory turned into a shit sandwich from room service. Yeats’s widening gyre is upon us. The biggest surprise of all yet-to-come is that television will fail to explain it. The second coming will not be the reappearance of the celebrity known as Jesus Christ, but rather of the event called the American Civil War.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
According to a YouGov Brand Index survey, the perception of Fox News among Republicans has hit a three-year low, “has declined by approximately 50% since January of this year.”
"Basically, perception of Fox News has returned to those bad old Dick Morris days after President Obama won re-election. Much of the fall has come in the last few months. There is no question that this precipitous drop is the result of Fox’s ongoing war with Donald Trump. ...
"MSNBC is left-wing. CNN is even more left-wing. If every Democrat tuned into either, the ratings would crush Fox. Democrats don’t tune in, though, because even Democrats hate bias.
Fox’s ratings are still through the roof, but the people that have kept the “Fair and Balanced” network a juggernaut for more than a decade are losing respect for it. That could mean trouble when the excitement of the presidential campaign fades away. That could also give an upstart an opening."
"Here is something I never thought I would write in my lifetime: CNN’s handling of the Republican debates has been infinitely more professional, unbiased, and fair than Fox News. It’s not even close. If you go back and look at the debates, CNN’s Jake Tapper and Wolf Blitzer have out-classed Megyn Kelly, Chris Wallace, and Bret Baier by a wide margin."
Saturday, February 27, 2016
As I just wrote at Hattie's Web, whether or not Trump is a fascist in the classic sense, he has focused anger the way a magnifying glass focuses a sun-ray. Eventually, a fire will start.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Thursday, February 25, 2016
I can't tell if I'm overtired from too much travel, but feels like the country is in the midst of a pretty terrifyingly reactionary moment— Christopher Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 24, 2016
The economic, political, and cultural phenomena we're seeing now was described in Kunstler's The Long Emergency. It holds up even a decade after it was written.
Wednesday, February 24, 2016
Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Monday, February 22, 2016
Just back from a dinner in West Hollywood: shocked the majority of the table was voting for Trump but they would never admit it publicly.— Bret Easton Ellis (@BretEastonEllis) February 21, 2016
How reassuring is it to Hillary, exactly, that she won what amounted to a straw poll totaling less than 11,000 votes among the various Nevada hotel employees unions? You could tell from her pained, artificial smile at the victory podium that there is something booby prize-ish about that narrow triumph. And what was with the metallic red outfit that had her looking like a previously-owned Christmas tree ornament? Maybe her handlers put her in Kevlar for the occasion.
She’ll need it as this fretful election campaign moves into the middle innings. That trademark unconvincing smile masks the embarrassing truth that the fix is in for Hillary inside the dark machine that is the Democratic Party hierarchy, hijacked by chairperson Debbie Wasserman-Schultz’s league of crones. The so-called “super-delegates” have all been rounded up and branded with a big smoking “H” on their hindquarters, leaving poor Bernie in the alkali basin of dashed hopes.
Readers have noticed (and complained loudly) lo these many months that I couldn’t get on-board for Bernie. I’m glad that someone opposed Mz It’s-My-Turn, but the Vermonter-from-Brooklyn lacks the juice to drive the necessary wooden stake into her grifter’s heart. The Goldman Sachs speaking fees ($200-K-plus each) should have been enough to send her to the donkey’s graveyard but, like so many awful truths in our over-amped and under-brained world, it got sucked into the TMZ alternative universe of discarded realities.
The latest simpleton’s political theory floating around the ether says that Hillary is guaranteed to get the overwhelming support of black voters. Why is that exactly? And what does it mean? Is she going to re-run the civil rights era? Is she going take up the banner for “safe spaces” on campus? Is she going to join the Oscars boycott? And, honestly, what has Mr. Obama done for black America, besides provide a model for how you can get somewhere in this society by learning how to speak English intelligibly?
So, the simpleton’s theory goes: Hillary wins the black and Hispanic vote and a big majority of womens’ votes. What does that mean? That America is now split into an ethnic-and-womens’ party (Dems) against a white mens’ party (Repubs)? Isn’t that a nice recipe for a multi-dimensional civil war?
Actually, it would be the mere seasoning in a stew of civilizational crisis simmering on the margins of the stupidest election contest in American history that could literally blow the country to pieces. The news media is, for instance, perfectly oblivious to the awful instabilities blossoming on the financial scene. In fact, the banks and markets are behaving in a way that suggests shocking disruptions to everyday life before the general election is even held. How would the Hillary-versus-Trump match-up go in a September of bank bail-ins and empty supermarket shelves due to the inability of businesses to service one another?
Rumblings out of the banking system ought to inform us that trust in mutual obligations is dwindling to the same zero-peg (and under) as world-wide interest rates. Something’s got to give and something will give (perhaps starting with something that has the initials “DB”) and then a whole lot of other things will give — beating a path swiftly to disrupting the normal complex operations of daily life that put food in your microwave and gasoline in the convenience store pumps. At that point, of course, all bets are off. Without being too cute about it, we ought to have reason to worry that America will be too disorderly later this year to even hold the 2016 general election.
As for Mr. Trump, he remains what I said at the campaign’s outset: worse than Hitler, lacking the brains, charm, and savoir faire of the Ol’ Fuhrer, and with his darkness even more plainly visible. Even Adolf could manage to get his necktie on so that it didn’t dangle around his nutsack. [Too glib.--P.Z.] I don’t mean to trivialize the difference between these two psychopaths, except to say that America will be very very sorry to follow the tune of the so-far leading Republican candidate’s pied-pipings.
Frankly, if Mr. Trump actually manages to technically snag the party’s nomination, I can imagine several consequences. One, that he will indeed succeed in destroying the party. The other leaders at the dark heart of its hierarchy will never stand for Trump. In that case, they will form a breakaway rump GOP and throw their support to Michael Bloomberg, if he decides to jump in — and he might be enough of a true patriot to do that. The less appetizing alternative consequences involve the apparatus of the runaway Deep State (NSA and the military) either bumping off Trump, or staging a coup d’état against him in the event that he manages to get elected. I’m not advocating for those outcomes, but you ought to be prepared for the possibilities.
Most of all, don’t underestimate the power of events to outrun personalities this year.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
Saturday, February 20, 2016
Tuesday, February 16, 2016
America. pic.twitter.com/TeduJkwQF3— Jeb Bush (@JebBush) February 16, 2016
A podcast on Conservative Hurricane: How Jeb Bush Remade Florida by Matthew T. Corrigan (University Press of Florida, 2014).
Monday, February 15, 2016
It ought to be a foregone conclusion that Mr. Obama’s replacement starting January 20, 2017 will preside over conditions of disorder in everyday life and economy never seen before. For the supposedly thinking class in America, the end of reality-optional politics will come as the surprise of their lives.
Where has that hypothetical thinking class been, by the way, the past eight years? Don’t look for it in what used to be called “the newspapers.” The New York Times has become so reality-averse that the editors traded in their blue pencils for Federal Reserve cheerleader pompoms after the Lehman incident of 2008. Every information-dispensing organ has followed their lede: The Recovery Continues! It’s a sturdy plank for promoting the impaired asset known as Hillary.
Don’t look for the thinking class in the universities. They’ve surrendered their traditional duties to a new hybrid persecution campaign that is equal parts Mao Zedong, the Witches of Loudon, and the Asylum at Charenton. For instance the President of Princeton, Mr. Eisgruber, was confronted with a list of demands that included 1) erasure of arch-segregationist Woodrow Wilson’s name from everything on campus, and 2) creation of a new all-black (i.e. segregated) student center. He didn’t blink. Note: nobody in the media asked him about this apparent contradiction. That’s how we roll these days.
Don’t look for the thinking class in business. The C-suites are jammed with people still busy buying back stock in their own companies at outlandish prices with borrowed money. Why? To artificially boost share price and thus their salaries and bonuses. Does it do anything for the fitness of enterprise? No, in fact it makes future failure more likely. Why is there no governance of their insane behavior? Because they’ve also bought and paid for boards of directors composed of a rotating cast of praetorian shills, with fresh recruits entering the scene weekly through the fabled “revolving door” between business and government regulators.
Oh, and then there’s government. Anyone viewing the boasting-and-defamation contests that the cable TV networks call “debates” knows that these spectacles are based on the opposite of thinking. They are not only reality-optional, they’re thought-optional. Hence, it appears for now that America is fixing to elect either a primal screamer or a road-tested grifter to preside over the epochal collapse of our hobbled, exhausted, way of life.
The recent carnage in the stock markets will probably see a retracement after the President’s Day hiatus. They’re bouncing up in other parts of the world today, the triumph of hope over all the available evidence that something fatal has happened out there in Tom Friedman’s supposedly permanent global economy. Some observers suspect that it has something to do with the price of oil, because the oil futures market and the stock indexes seem to go up and down in tandem. But they don’t really get it.
How hard is it to understand that A) that something adverse happens to oil companies when it costs them $70-a-barrel to hoist the product out of the ground and then sell it for $30-a-barrel? And B) that all of the infrastructure of techno-industrial civilization was designed to run on oil under $30-a-barrel and founders when the price goes higher? That’s how it is. That’s your basic reality.
We’ve been trying to work around this vexing problem — the non-linear manifestation of the supposedly bygone predicament called “peak oil” — since the early part of this century. Mainly, we worked around it by borrowing money that wasn’t there. Having created this matrix of borrowed money, we’ve also created an expectation in market obligations that it must be paid back. In fact, the process of paying back money owed is the only thing that supports confidence in a system based on that essential trust — even if that expectation was unreal to begin with. When it is violated, terrible things happen in markets and economies.
Those terrible things are underway. We’re going to be a much-distressed and poorer so-called republic when this year is done with us. The markets will crack and the trade relations that comprise globalism will fall apart as nations and regions of nations struggle to survive. We’ll move inexorably to a very possibly disastrous election. We’ll face the basic choices, as distressed societies always do, of freaking-and-acting-out (usually in the form of war), or opting for a reunion with reality and its mandates. So far, it’s not looking good for the better option.
If you are a thinking person, the months ahead might be your last chance to protect whatever wealth you have and to move to some part of the country where, at least, you can grow some of your own food and become a useful part of a social and economic network that might be called a community.
Saturday, February 13, 2016
Friday, February 12, 2016
Friend of Hattie Taboris wondering how to preserve old home movies and photographs. I'm not a professional but I suggested seeking the help of a local museum or historical society. I further suggested donating or lending photos and films which might be of historical, but not sentimental, value. Organizing the photos/films and grouping them according to priority is the first step. Just now, a quick online search brought up this, "Tips on Preserving Family Films and Photos."--The New York Times.
Rand Paul Out But Libertarianism Now Mainstream. (I found this article through a dis by Roy Edroso. Mahalo.)
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
Tuesday, February 09, 2016
Lent commences tomorrow, so I'll prepare some food ahead of time. I see using up the various beans, spices, and similar things over the next forty days (excluding Sundays).
Monday, February 08, 2016
I watched Super Bowl L, but also another program, so I missed the halftime show. Beyoncé (accent mark automatically appears when I type it) is who she is, Coldplay was out of place, and Bruno Mars (local boy) was the true star. More later.
Saturday, February 06, 2016
Will Eisenstein in Guanajuato at least come to the Palace? I hope so.
Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/430815/hail-ceasar-coen-brothers-movie-review-cultural-satire
Zoolander 2 (What will Bret say?)
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies
Friday, February 05, 2016
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Monday, February 01, 2016
Why would anybody suppose that the Peoples Bank of China might want to tell the truth about anything that was within their power to lie about? Especially the soundness of any loan portfolio vested unto the grasp of its tentacles? Of course, most of what China has done in speeding toward the wall of financial crack-up, it learned from watching US bankers slime their way into Too Big To Fail nirvana — most particularly the array of swindles, dodges, and frauds constructed in the half-light of shadow banking to hedge the sudden, catastrophic appearance of reality-based price discovery.
When so many loans end up networked as collateral in some kind of bet against previous bets against other previous bets, you can be sure that cascading contagion will follow. And so that is exactly what’s happening as China’s rocket ride into Modernity falls back to earth. Like most historical fiascos, it seemed like a good idea at the time: take a nation of about a billion people living in the equivalent of the Twelfth Century, introduce the magic of money printing, spend a gazillion of it on CAT and Kubota earth-moving machines, build the biggest cement industry the world has ever seen, purchase whole factory set-ups, and flood the rest of the world with stuff. Then the trouble starts when you try to defeat the business cycles associated with over-production and saturated markets.
Poor China and poor us. Escape velocity has failed. Which raises the question: escape from what, exactly? Answer: the implacable limits of life on earth. The metaphor for all this, of course, is the old journey-into-space idea, which still persists in the salesmanship of Elon Musk, the ragged remnants of NASA, and even the nightmares of Stephen Hawking. Get off this messed-up home planet and light out of the territories, say Mars. Of course, this is a vain and stupid idea, since we already have a planet engineered to perfection for all the life systems associated with the human project. We just can’t respect its limits.
So now, that dynamic duo, Nature and Reality, the actual owners of the planet, have showed up to read the riot act to the renters throwing a wild party. The fourth and perhaps ultimate financial crisis of the last twenty years begins to express itself in terms that only the raptors and vultures can see from on high. George Soros, Kyle Bass, and the other flocking shadow banking scavengers prepare to short the living shit out of the old Middle Kingdom. The immortal words of G.W. Bush ring in their ears: “This sucker is going down,” and they are sure to win big by betting on the obvious. Trouble is, this sucker could go down so much further than they imagined, that whatever fortunes they gain from its descent will be foiled by the destruction of the very economic system needed for them to enjoy their gains.
For instance, when banking systems go down, governments usually follow, and when governments go down, societies often unravel. It doesn’t take a great effort of imagination to see China’s one party politburo leadership machine lose the respect of its governed masses, and then its control of events, followed by a Great Struggle among the regions and factions to restore some kind of order. And when the smoke clears there will a whole lot of nearly worthless concrete and steel, and a vast loss of notional wealth, and China will be lucky to land back in some approximation of the Twelfth Century.
It must be interesting for China to watch the horrifying disintegration of America’s political party structure currently on view, with the mad bull called Trump rampaging across the land and the designated inevitable Mz It’s-My-Turn hijacking her collective for the greater glory of Goldman Sachs. The last time China got the vapors politically — the so-called Cultural Revolution of the 1960s — the country went batshit crazy. Surely some of the ruling party remembers that with requisite terror.
Or maybe this is China and the USA’s Thelma and Louise moment. Pedal to the metal, they drive into the abyss of history holding hands. Remember, audiences loved that!