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Flying at higher platitudes in the thin upper air of his own mind last week, Republican candidate Mitt Romney remarked apropos of aeroplane travel: “[T]he windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous.” It turned out that Mitt meant the remark as a gag. But it sheds some light on the hazard of trying to be funny by saying the opposite of what you mean, and also on the essential character of Mr. Romney who, to put it as plainly and directly as possible, is the sort of person commonly described as “an arsehole.” Hence, the thought that must be flashing through many people’s minds these days when Romney’s off-kilter, square-jawed, grinning visage floats over the nearest flat-screen: Who would vote for that arsehole…? Being given to more baroque taxonomy, myself, I would be satisfied in calling Mr. Romney an empty vessel in a vacant room in an abandoned property in a forsaken land, and leave it at that.
It happens that his opponent, Mr. Obama, is a genial fellow with whom almost anyone might like to have a beer. Despite his winning smile, though, the president has managed to cripple due process of law, make war on the nation’s own citizens, let Wall Street criminals run amok, and sell out the electoral process to a corrupt corporate oligarchy. I wouldn’t vote for him again if he water-boarded me in a Jacuzzi full of Schorschbräu’s Schorschbock 57 beer ($275 a bottle). But he’s welcome to come over to my house and watch the baseball playoffs if he brings his own six-pack and a bag of Cheetos.
And so it goes on the backstretch of the emptiest election contest in memory. The nation simply can’t contend with the existential problems it faces and doesn’t want to hear about them. As far as I can tell, nobody is paying attention to the campaigns, not even the reporters, certainly not the bloggers, who have their eyes on the riots and other kinetic unravelings related to the money crisis in Europe. Here, where anything goes and nothing matters, everybody just goes through the motions of electoral politics. It all has the odor of a ritual that nobody remembers the original purpose of – namely, to govern, i.e. to manage society’s collective affairs. These days, nobody believes that our affairs are manageable, and their perception is probably correct, especially when it comes to paying for it all, since accounting fraud is now the basis of all financial operations.
But I don’t mean to just deplore the situation. It is what it is, and we are at a certain juncture of history because of the choices we have made, and we’ll have to see how the consequences roll out. Here’s how I see some of them.
The Romney election fiasco will destroy the Republican Party, just as the Whig party fell apart in the last days of Millard Fillmore. The religious nuts and Dixieland ignoranti will demand the expulsion of all non-extremists and Karl Rove will be left at the Nascar track with Honey Boo Boo on his lap and a dwindling “base” of shrieking microcephalics awaiting the second coming of Adolf Hitler in a green satin Mountain Dew race-day jumpsuit. Respectable conservatives (they exist) will have to take their pleadings elsewhere, the venue or party yet-to-be determined, perhaps off-shore somewhere where the downtrodden sew blue jeans and counterfeit Louis Vuitton handbags.
Meanwhile, genial Barack Obama glides to victory and then presides over four more years of implacable contraction that will make the Great Depression look like an episode of Cake Boss. The contraction is upon us because peak oil is for real and shale-gas / shale oil is what used to be known as “a bill o’goods” which one is sold by underhanded means and, boy, was this country sold. BP, Chevron, Exxon-Mobil and the gang carpet-bombed the cable news networks all year with shale propaganda and now everybody and his mother thinks we’re going to run Walmart indefinitely on the rectified rock-farts of North Dakota. The sharpies over at Spin Central haven’t figured out yet that true “energy independence” means living without the oil you need to run your stuff.
In reality, the roughly 300-year fiesta of an expanding fossil fuel energy supply is over, and that model of an economy with it. We’ll also soon discover the hard way that technology is not a substitute for energy. No matter how many apps you can cram into a little pocket-sized box you still need juice to run it. In any case, the folks who elected Mr. Obama will be furious when they learn the truth of our predicament. The Democratic Party may not blow up quite like the Republicans, but it could become the front organisation for the imperial return of Bill and Hillary Clinton.
I’ve maintained for over decade that Bill Clinton will get back into power despite the 22nd amendment because the nostalgia for the 1990s will be so overwhelming and irresistible in a harsh age. The only thing I wonder about is whether Bill or Hillary will succeed in getting the other bumped off. Otherwise the regime could develop into something like the brief joint Roman emperorship of Pupienus and Balbinus (238 AD).
Eventually, I expect bankruptcy, political paralysis, and social disorder to become so extreme that a Pentagon general will stride into the White House and put an end to the freak show. A Navy Seal team spirits away Bill and Hillary to a dumpster in the ruins of Opryland… and it’s on to the new dark age.____________________________________
James Howard Kunstler’s newest nonfiction book, TOO MUCH MAGIC, will be available in stores in July 2012. The book will be available at booksellers, large and small, online and off. To find out how you can help support local bookstores with your purchase, CLICK HERE. Other books:
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