Make No Mistake .. James Howard Kunstler

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tom.
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Make No Mistake .. James Howard Kunstler

Make No Mistake - written two days back

(I have not seen a Kunstler column here in a long time, we used to get one every week a couple years back)


LINK: 


By James Howard Kunstler 

on March 28, 2011 9:25 AM

 

     Taking in Charles Ferguson's excellent documentary, Inside Job, about the dark doings of Wall Street in our time, I confess I was awestruck all over again at the complete surrender of Obama to the very characters who embodied the corruption that rotted our system from the heart outward. Summers, Rubin, Geithner, and a host of other revolving door grifters who did everything possible to set up the implosion of banking, defeat the rule of law in money matters, and ruin millions who wanted nothing more than something useful to do in this society for a living wage.

 

      Most impressive of all in this brave film were the shameless academic mandarins caught on camera trying to weasel out of their greed-driven misdeeds - Glenn Hubbard, chair of the Columbia University Econ department, a perfectly programmed polished WASP (like out of a "Ken" doll box) on the outside, slithering corruption inside, who played a major role in removing all restraints on Wall Street, then served as a director on the boards of several predatory financial giants, including the biggest, Black Rock, and pretended not to remember if he got paid for it; Martin Feldstein of the Harvard Econ department, in-and-out of government like a rat in a cheese-box, who sat on the board of AIG in the months before it blew itself up on credit default swaps, and who saw nothing about the company's operations that gave off a bad odor after it entered the most massive government receivership the world has ever seen; and most memorably Fred Mishkin, former Federal Reserve governor, now an academic rover, who wrote a cheerleading report for the Icelandic banking system about five minutes before it collapsed, then changed the report's title from Financial Stability in Iceland to Financial Instability in Iceland, then denied it on camera in the face of obvious evidence, then forgot whether he got paid six-figures to write the glowing report, then dissolved on camera into a maundering puddle of indignity and humiliation.

 

      How do these rogues survive the disclosure of their turpitudes? Is there no one at places like Harvard and Columbia who has any sense of shame or even an inkling of disappointment that they employ such odious hustlers? Apparently not. This is a system with no mechanism of self-regulation left. And there's Obama at the tippy-top of it serving like a department store mannequin with a Department of Justice that someone has hung a "gone fishin'" sign on. I voted for him in 2008, and I want to start a movement in whatever's left of the Progressive core to get rid of him. Being a decent, presentable fellow with a nice family is just not enough. Even his vaunted speech-making abilities have gotten on my nerves. If I hear him say "make no mistake" one more time, someone will have to restrain me from kicking in the flat screen TV. Obama, it turns out, is the mistake.

 

        Can't any of us begin the reform of the Democratic Party, starting with resigning from being Wall Street's b***ch? Granted, the age of labor unions may be over for a while, maybe forever (who knows?), and the age of government money hand-outs on the grand scale to everybody-and-his-uncle, too. But how about just a party of intelligence and courage? Wouldn't that be enough to start with? A party capable of setting some limits and enforcing them. A party able to understand the signals that the future is sending us about resource scarcity. A party willing to engage and defeat stupidity, such as climate change denial, and drill-drill-drill cretinism, and "creation science," and all the pietistic hypocrisies of the Sunbelt know-nothings. A party willing to drag characters like Lloyd Blankfein into a court of law to answer straight-up fraud charges. A party willing to admit that if you can't control both the terrain and the people's behavior in Afghanistan, then there's no excuse for prosecuting a war there.

 

     I have a lot of hope for the millennials, the young people just coming up. They're going to get sick of living in an ethical vacuum and sick of political paralysis.Their brains are going through the final stage of development where it arrives at the ability to make judgments. They are going to judge the Boomers and their X'er successors harshly and they're going to remind us that Americans are capable of valiant action even without the trappings of jingoism and sports metaphors.

 

     In the meantime, we can look forward to a year of spectacular unraveling. Our money system probably can't survive the crack-up of revolving obligations that were ginned up so that bankers could cream off fortunes from every exchange of any sort of paper on the face of the earth. The European banks have nowhere to go anymore with Ireland and Portugal crapping out.  Bond-holders are finally going to have to eat a lot of losses. Governments have fallen and more will go down - but, of course, more to the point is what governments will follow them in power? Probably more audacious ones, run by people who intend to act, perhaps even badly.

 

     The Middle East and North Africa have the look of spinning into World War Three. The action just doesn't seem like it's going to simmer down anytime soon in a half-dozen nations that have started gunning down their own people - and there's Iran sitting rather quietly on the sidelines, or so it appears for the moment, as the whole region rearranges itself to suit them better. Wait until Hezbollah starts lobbing missiles into Israel. You'll see the big "tilt" sign light up the sky. Anyway you slice it there, America better get ready for a lot less imported oil. There's really nothing we can do that will change that now, and drill-drill-drill will not come close to mitigating our losses, no matter how much Larry Kudlow wrings his hands.

     Poor Obama. On The global chessboard of fate, he's the powerless king facing down ranks of dark knights and implacable bishops. All he can do is sidestep their onslaughts. Even the pawns are beginning to moil and roister in the background. He'll be on TV tonight. Make no mistake.

 

     I was just informed this morning about the death of Joe Bageant, author of Deer Hunting With Jesus and the soon-to-be published Rainbow Pie. Joe was a brave and funny soul and we will miss him very much.

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darbikrash
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Joe Bageant
tom. wrote:

     I was just informed this morning about the death of Joe Bageant, author of Deer Hunting With Jesus and the soon-to-be published Rainbow Pie. Joe was a brave and funny soul and we will miss him very much.

Sad to read this. Joe Bageant was one of the good guys. In memorium:

 AMERICA: Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM?

 

Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga

By Joe Bageant
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-f**ed? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out. 

As William Edwards Deming famously demonstrated, no system can understand itself, and why it does what it does, including the American social system. Not knowing sh*t about why your society does what it makes for a pretty nasty case of existential unease. So we create institutions whose function is to pretend to know, which makes everyone feel better. Unfortunately, it also makes the savviest among us -- those elites who run the institutions -- very rich, or safe from the vicissitudes that buffet the rest of us.

Directly or indirectly, they understand that the real function of American social institutions is to justify, rationalize and hide the true purpose of cultural behavior from the lumpenproletariat, and to shape that behavior to the benefit of the institution's members. "Hey, they're a lump. Whaddya expect us to do?"

Doubting readers may consider America's health institutions, the insurance corporations, hospital chains, physicians' lobbies. Between them they have established a perfectly legal right to clip you and me for thousands of dollars at their own discretion. That we so rabidly defend their right to gouge us, given all the information available in the digital age, mystifies the world.

Two hundred years ago no one would have thought sheer volume of available facts in the digital information age would produce informed Americans. Founders of the republic, steeped in the Enlightenment as they were, and believers in an informed citizenry being vital to freedom and democracy, would be delirious with joy at the prospect. Imagine Jefferson and Franklin high on Google. 

The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. In a nation that equates democracy with everyman's right to an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, this was probably inevitable. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That's why they are called dumb. 

But throw in sixty years of television's mind puddling effects, and you end up with 24 million Americans watching Bristol Palin thrashing around on Dancing with the Stars, then watch her being interviewed with all seriousness on the networks as major news. The inescapable conclusion of half of heartland America is that her mama must certainly be presidential material, even if Bristol cannot dance. It ain't a pretty picture out there in Chattanooga and Keokuk.

The other half, the liberal half, concludes that Bristol's bad dancing is part of her spawn-of-the-Devil mama's plan to take over the country, and make millions in the process, not to mention make Tina Fey and Jon Stewart richer than they already are. That's a tall order for a squirrel brained woman who recently asked a black president to "refutiate" the NAACP (though I kinda like refutiate, myself). Cultural stupidity accounts for virtually every aspect of Sarah Palin, both as a person and a political icon. Which, come to think of it, may be a pretty good reason not to "misunderstimate" her. After all, we're still talking about her in both political camps. And the woman OWNS the Huffington Post, fer Christsake. Not to mention a franchise on cultural ignorance. 

Cultural stupidity might not be so bad, were it not self-reproducing and viral, and prone to place stupid people in charge. All of us have, at some point, looked at a boss and asked ourselves how such a numb-nuts could end up in charge of the joint...................

 

tom.'s picture
tom.
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A note from Joe
darbikrash wrote:

Sad to read this. Joe Bageant was one of the good guys. In memorium:

That was a great Link Darbi - thank you

Joe is there on the left.

His last post:

Dear friends, associates and fellow travelers,

As you may or may not know, I have been struck down by an extremely serious form of cancer. Presently I am back in the United States receiving treatment through the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital system. Due to the nature of the massive internal tumor, I am currently unable to even carry on email correspondence or Skype conversations.

Right now I am at a hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia. Once a treatment program has been designed and set in motion, I will probably be transferred back to the Veterans Administration facility near my home in Winchester, Virginia. The condition is inoperable, but it is hoped that with chemotherapy plus the use of a pain killer such as OxyContin, I will be able to resume my online work.

As soon as I am able to sit up long enough to work online and carry on Skype conversations, I will do so. Until then, please have patience and bear with me in this frustrating and difficult time. Business correspondence and relationships will not be interrupted during this period of recovery because I have several persons willing to work with me through dictation.

Thank all of you very much for your friendship and patience.

-- Joe Bageant


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Travlin
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The guy on the right in the

The guy on the right in the photo is Fred Reed.  He wrote an interesting farewell to Joe here -->  http://fredoneverything.net/BageantMovesOn.shtml 

Fred is a fine writer himself.  Very thought provoking and not politically correct.  You can read him here -->  http://fredoneverything.net/

Travlin 

Thinkor's picture
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Funny how

It's funny how Kunstler mentions that Glenn Hubbard is a WASP, whose "programmed and polished" types he associates with "slithering corruption" on the inside, but neglects to mention that Mishkin and Feldstein are Jews (like himself coincidentally) or to insinuate any association of any particular surface-type-of-Jew with the financial sins these particular individuals of that type displayed.

I think Kunstler is revealing some anti-WASP racism on his part.

 

 

 

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