Sunday, May 4, 2014

(Dynastic Grifters Arise! You've Nothing To Lose But Sliding Into the Next Position - Selfies on Facebook Become Targets?) Exceptional Americans Can Take Unique Abuse (Imprint of a Violent Logic Repeating - Gotta Revolution? Not Yet) What's Been and What's Next)

(Latest Outrage (Horrors!): Right Wingers Propagandize Fake Newt/Crazies Economic Video Proving Obama & Liberals Not Dubya & Cheney Caused 2008 Financial Collapse and Implemented Wrong Solution)

Behind Blue (Blood-Stained) Eyes

Diagnosing Paul Ryan's psychopathy: Arrogant, manipulative, deceitful, remorseless

Paul Ryan (Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

(Right click to view both beady eyes.)

If the GOP as a whole has pretty much given up on the whole “rebranding” thing, their 2012 vice presidential nominee, Congressman Paul Ryan, most definitely has not. In fact, rebranding is pretty much his thing, regardless of how credible — or incredible, actually — his efforts may be.

For years, Ryan touted himself as an avid Ayn Rand disciple, until he didn’t in early 2012, even calling it “an urban legend” that he had anything serious to do with Rand at all. He then tried to present the latest iteration of his draconian soak-the-poor/shower the rich budget proposal as grounded in Catholic social teaching, rather than Rand’s fiercely anti-Christian philosophy, a claim that the conservative U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops soundly rejected, writing that his proposed budget failed to meet certain “moral criteria” by disproportionately cutting programs that “serve poor and vulnerable people.”

Now, seeking to put all memory of the “47 percent” campaign behind him, Ryan’s trying to take that reinvention to a whole new level. He’s still touting a budget that dramatically slashes spending on programs that benefit Americans of limited means — 69 percent of all cuts — including $137 billion from food stamps, 24 percent or $732 billion from Medicaid, and $125 billion from Pell Grants, among others — while giving millionaires an average tax cut of at least $200,000. Yet, at the same time, Ryan is trying to reinvent himself as someone who’s serious about fighting poverty, only from a conservative perspective.

Diagnosing Paul Ryan’s Psychopathy: Arrogant, Manipulative, Deceitful, Remorseless

Paul Krugman revealed Ryan's big con years ago. It's gotten worse. Why does anyone take him seriously on policy?

Yes, The Almighty Ryan doesn't want to fund welfare (or anything else that benefits the constantly increasing (for some damn reason unknown to him other than laziness) volume of the lower ("poor and vulnerable") classes).

But he's crazy about the blossoming American McJobs business model (Yay entrepreneurship!).

Or just crazy.

McWages for the McAmerica Job Recovery

. . . they try to trick people with low monthly payments while jacking prices up. In large part, this was the entire mission of QE and all the other bailout programs – basically freeze accounting rules, lower rates into negative territory, and let banks rewrite their balance sheets. In the end, what you have is an economy where housing prices are going up, college costs are soaring, healthcare costs are going up, yet incomes are stagnant and falling on an inflation adjusted basis.
We are witnessing an economic race to the bottom. The recovery has largely been one of low-wage work. This is easily seen through the paychecks Americans are receiving. What isn’t readily visible is what is being slashed on the backend including healthcare, benefits, and the expanding impact of inflation on purchasing power.
A report from the National Employment Law Project finds the continuing trend of the McWage recovery. This is a suitable name for what is occurring in this so-called recovery that is only exacerbating wealth and income inequality. For example, 3.6 million higher-wage jobs were lost due to the recession and only 2.6 million jobs in this segment have been added back. We are in a net-deficit of good paying jobs by 1 million. On the other hand, we lost 2 million low-wage jobs during the recession but have added 3.8 million lower-wage jobs during the recovery. A net add of 1.8 million lower-wage jobs.
This is the kind of recovery being dished out by the bailout happy Wall Street and their aggressive behind the scenes shenanigans of raiding the pockets of Americans. The story is the same: corporate welfare and financial handouts while austerity and a race to the bottom for the rest.

The Low-Wage Recovery

Higher paid industries like those in accounting and legal work for example shed 3.6 million jobs during the recession only to have 2.6 million being added back. However, the lower-wage industries like those in fast food, retailing, and hospitality lost 2 million jobs during the recession but have added a stunning 3.8 million back since. In reality, what is occurring is a two-tiered workforce.

You have massive salaries at the executive level while we are growing an army of lower-wage workers that barely have enough to pay the rent. The middle class? Largely evaporating one worker at a time.

This matters for a variety of reasons but for one, it is showing a growing inequality gap that is booming in America that is deeply problematic. People realize that there will be gaps in income and wealth but the current system favors a plutocracy. Money is buying more influence in politics and the media already dishes out watered down content to keep the public numb and blind to what is happening.
This is how we can have 47 million people on food stamps yet have a peak in the stock market. The majority of Americans own no stocks because they don’t have enough to save after they are paid their wages. The financial sector in the US has become a giant rent-seeking apparatus that draws money and energy from the productive sectors in the country.

Think of all the big bank bailouts. Just look at pay at the big banks and ask yourself what the trillions of dollars in bailout funds and central bank gimmicks have wrought onto the nation. Inflation is absolutely happening contrary to the watered down CPI.

Paul Craig Roberts is always spot-on with the latest economic/political analysis (if always waaaay too-forgiving of his influence on the Raygun policies which put the whole schmear into motion, but you know how that goes for the boys in charge . . .). If you've wondered how the markets are being manipulated to benefit the wealthy clan, read the essay below. He's very tough on the plutocrats who used to be his fellow party members.

Oh, and he's not talking about the TV show.

US Economy Is A House Of Cards

Paul Craig Roberts
The US economy is a house of cards. Every aspect of it is fraudulent, and the illusion of recovery is created with fraudulent statistics.
American capitalism itself is an illusion. All financial markets are rigged. Massive liquidity poured into financial markets by the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing inflates stock and bond prices and drives interest rates, which are supposed to be a measure of the cost of capital, to zero or negative, with the implication that capital is so abundant that its cost is zero and can be had for free.

Large enterprises, such as mega-banks and auto manufacturers, that go bankrupt are not permitted to fail. Instead, public debt and money creation are used to cover private losses and keep corporations “too big to fail” afloat at the expense not of shareholders but of people who do not own the shares of the corporations.
Profits are no longer a measure that social welfare is being served by capitalism’s efficient use of resources when profits are achieved by substituting cheaper foreign labor for domestic labor, with resultant decline in consumer purchasing power and rise in income and wealth inequality.

In the 21st century, the era of jobs offshoring, the US has experienced an unprecedented explosion in income and wealth inequality.

I have made reference to this hard evidence of the failure of capitalism to provide for the social welfare in the traditional economic sense in my book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, and Thomas Piketty’s just published book, Capital in the 21st Century, has brought an alarming picture of reality to insouciant economists, such as Paul Krugman.

As worrisome as Piketty’s picture is of inequality, I agree with Michael Hudson that the situation is worse than Piketty describes. 
Capitalism has been transformed by powerful private interests whose control over governments, courts, and regulatory agencies has turned capitalism into a looting mechanism.

Wall Street no longer performs any positive function. Wall Street is a looting mechanism, a deadweight loss to society. Wall Street makes profits by front-running trades with fast computers, by selling fraudulent financial instruments that it is betting against as investment grade securities, by leveraging equity to unprecedented heights, making bets that cannot be covered, and by rigging all commodity markets.

The Federal Reserve and the US Treasury’s “Plunge Protection Team” aid the looting by supporting the stock market with purchases of stock futures, and protect the dollar from the extraordinary money-printing by selling naked shorts into the Comex gold futures market.

The US economy no longer is based on education, hard work, free market prices and the accountability that real free markets impose.

Instead, the US economy is based on manipulation of prices, speculative control of commodities, support of the dollar by Washington’s puppet states, manipulated and falsified official statistics, propaganda from the financial media, and inertia by countries, such as Russia and China, who are directly harmed, both economically and politically, by the dollar payments system.

As the governments in most of the rest of the world are incompetent, Washington’s incompetence doesn’t stand out, and this is Washington’s salvation.

But it is not a salvation for Americans who live under Washington’s rule. As all statistical evidence makes completely clear, the share of income and wealth going to the bulk of the US population is declining.

This decline means the end of the consumer market that has been the mainstay of the US economy.

Now that the mega-rich have even more disproportionate shares of the income and wealth, what happens to an economy based on selling imports and off-shored production of goods and services to a domestic consumer market?

How do the vast majority of Americans purchase more when their incomes have not grown for years and have even declined and they are too impoverished to borrow more from banks that won’t lend?

The America in which I grew up was self-sufficient. Foreign trade was a small part of the economy. When I was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, the US still had a trade surplus except for oil. Offshoring of America’s jobs had not begun, and US earnings on its foreign investments exceeded foreign earnings on US investments. Therefore, America’s earnings abroad covered its energy deficit in its balance of trade.

The economic stability achieved during the Reagan administration was shattered by Wall Street greed. Wall Street threatened corporations with takeovers if the corporations did not produce higher profits by relocating their production of goods and services for American markets abroad.

The lower labor costs boosted earnings and stock prices and satisfied Wall Street’s cravings for ever more earnings, but brought an end to the rise in US living standards except for the mega-rich.

Financial Deregulation Loaded the Economy With the Risks of Asset Bubbles.

Americans are an amazingly insouciant people. By now any other people would have burnt Wall Street to the ground.

Washington has unique subjects. Americans will take endless abuse and blame some outside government for their predicament – Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, China, Russia. Such an insouciant and passive people are ideal targets for looting, and their economy, hollowed-out by looting, is a house of cards.

Kevin Spacey would be so proud.

And how is the U.S. morality quotient being measured on its foreign policy front (adventures) under Obama?

Unlike the author of the essay below, I am old enough to remember the whole of the Vietnam War (since the Eisenhower take-over-the-war-financing-from-the-French days).

I remember the ignorant people in my little town circulating a petition to get amnesty (or understanding or jerked tears) for Lt. William Calley, leader of the killing spree (or so it was reported) at My Lai, and my Dad telling his children solemnly "The man killed babies, old people and women without a thought. We do not sign petitions for murderers in this house," and how he told my brother, who was waving the piece of paper in the air, to get it out of here.

As you may imagine, we changed only a few minds at that time.

I dreamed throughout that war of writing something that would open up and change everyone's mind and cut through the overwhelming media propaganda.

Nick Turse has done the deed.

Sorry that I couldn't, but I did try.

As did so many others.

May 2, 2014

The Burden of Atrocity:  How Vietnam Was Exposed As A “Dirty War”

Nick Turse's exhaustive new book on America's war crimes gives short shrift to those who helped uncover them

Penny Lewis, Jacobin
Testifying in 1971 as part of the Winter Soldier Investigation, a war crimes hearing sponsored by the Vietnam Veterans Against the War, psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton distinguished the American war in Vietnam from other conflicts:

There’s a quality of atrocity in this war that goes beyond that of other wars in that the war itself is fought as a series of atrocities. There is no distinction between an enemy whom one can justifiably fire at and people whom one murders in less than military situations.
Concluding this thought by reflecting on the experience of soldiers and veterans, Lifton observed, “Now if one carries this sense of atrocity with one, one carries the sense of descent into evil.”
Nick Turse’s book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War In Vietnam,carries readers to the core of that evil. Forty years ago, Daniel Ellsberg explained to filmmaker Peter Davis, “We weren’t on the wrong side, we are the wrong side.” There would have been no war without the US arming, training, and fighting on the side of the various despotic governments of South Vietnam.
A conservative estimate of civilian deaths arising from the war is two million in South Vietnam alone, from a population of nineteen million.

An analogous civilian casualty rate in the United States today would be nearly thirty-three million — in fact, looking at the dead and wounded in Vietnam as ratios of the general population puts the conflict on par with the horrendous bloodshed of World War II.
As Kill Anything That Moves relives in graphic detail, the Vietnam War was horrendously brutal in its plans, execution and outcomes.
Like the author, I wasn’t old enough during the conflict itself to have any firsthand experience of the common sense of the era. But I grew up among veterans, in a liberal milieu, and heard dinner table conversation about Vietnam.

Later, I came to learn about the war as an activist, and then as a student of the war and the movement that arose to confront it. My attitude has naturally always mirrored the majority of the war’s contemporaries, who continue to maintain that it was “fundamentally wrong and immoral.”

Like many of them, and certainly like the millions who participated in the antiwar movement, I knew the broad outlines of Turse’s arguments and evidence before opening his book.

But my experience is unusual for Gen X’ers, and is even more so for the Millenials behind us who have had still less direct experience of war and its effects. Today’s thirty-year-olds were born in 1984. The Gulf War of 1991, which was to have finally laid the ghosts of Vietnam to rest, was their first experience of overt US warfare.

That war was safely televised from a distance. Casualties were counted in the hundreds for the US and the low thousands for the Iraqis. Spin doctors got far ahead of stories of depleted uranium, sarin gas, and Gulf War Syndrome.
More recent wars, in Iraq and the ongoing war in Afghanistan, find little support in the polls from any age group. Yet the greatest active opposition to these conflicts occurred in their early years, before the particular kinds of atrocities created in these countries had barely gotten underway, or even occurred.

There’s little urgency in the opposition to the “technowars” that continue to be waged, and little widespread knowledge of what warfare means to its victims and perpetrators.
Reading Kill Anything That Moves evokes a sense of visceral revulsion and sickened recoil, reactions toward war that are rarely experienced in the US today in our more sanitized, draft-free, drone-filled conflicts.
It is like getting repeatedly punched and bracing oneself for more — an overwhelming experience, even for readers already familiar with detailed accounts of the varieties of savagery perpetrated in Vietnam, and knew already the pervasive, normal nature of the war’s brutality.
What makes Kill Anything That Moves different from other texts that cover the same material is the sheer compendium of evidence. Each of the not-quite-the-same stories — ranging from massacres to rapes to murder to torture to running people over and compensating deaths with a few dollars for the bereaved families — bears the imprint of a violent logic repeating itself again and again.
Like others writing about the war crimes committed by the United States in Vietnam, Turse sets up his own narrative pointing out that the massacre at My Lai in 1968 — in which over 500 civilians were brutalized and killed — was the “tip of the iceberg” of non-combatant murder.
Turse began his own investigations when, while conducting related doctoral research, he “stumbled upon” papers from the War Crimes Working Group, a secret task force created at the Pentagon after My Lai that collected files for over 300 such criminal incidents that had been substantiated by military investigators — none individually at the scale of My Lai, but indicative of a pattern of brutality Turse traces with his book.

Over the years this group regularly reported such incidents up the chains of command at the Pentagon as well as the White House — not for the purposes (of) seeking justice, but as part of an operation of “image management . . . to be parried or buried as quickly as possible.”
Beyond these files, Turse found further official documentary evidence of war crimes in similar archives. He interviewed government officials and over 100 American veterans of the war.
He visited Vietnam, speaking with the victims of US warfare. There, searching out a hamlet that had been the site of one of the many civilian massacres he was investigating, he began to see that, rather than finding the “needle in the haystack” of the small rural village in the Vietnamese countryside marked by this horror, he was instead discovering a “haystack of needles,” a whole social landscape overwhelmed by a history of criminal brutality and death.
The narrative frame of book, the analysis that links it all together, is the observation that such bloodiness, such wanton destruction, was in fact the plan.

Vietnam was the technocratic set letting slip the dogs of war. From the very top, from the very beginning, the war in Vietnam was intended as a war of attrition that the US would win because it was able to bring down more lethal destruction than its enemy.

General William Westmoreland, with the statistical support of Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and his team, sought the elusive “crossover point” of carnage, “at which Vietcong and North Vietnamese casualties would be greater than they could sustain,” in McNamara’s description.

The logic of the war makers in the US was that the national liberation movement and their allies in the North would give up when they had too many of their fighters and supporters killed. Keeping track of the “body count” allowed trackers in Washington to measure with precision how close the US and their South Vietnamese allies were to this goal.
Turse makes much of the effect that this singular fixation on the body count had on the units and individual soldiers fighting the war. Working in tandem with the racist and dehumanizing “mere-gook rule,” the body count chase meant “if it’s dead and Vietnamese, it’s VC.”
As a medic told historian Christian Appy, the body count system created “a real incentivizing of death and it just fucked with our value system.”

Like many other accounts of US soldiers in the Vietnam War, Turse shows how basic training to kill; the instilled obedience to authority; the absence of any meaningful war crimes education; the confounding and contradictory conditions of guerilla warfare; and the sleeplessness, fear, and everyday horrors of the front combined with the pursuit of high body created conditions ripe for individual and group brutality against civilians.
From the start, the dead Vietnamese counted towards Westmoreland’s crossover point included thousands of villagers swept up in the slaughter. Turse describes in great detail how the-only-good-Vietnamese-is-a-dead-Vietnamese logic informed the sadistic behavior of soldiers in all corners of the war throughout its tenure.
Given the scope of the murders committed, however, this individual brutality pales in the face of the “overkill” and “system of suffering” that structured the war as a whole. Which is to say, soldiers committed horrifying individual acts, but much more typically murderous was the systematic destruction embedded in the methods of the war as a whole.
Beyond the body count, “free fire zones” encouraged slaughtering first, asking questions never. Early in the war, the forced relocation of villagers to “strategic hamlets” controlled by the South Vietnamese caused widespread misery; such pacification efforts continued, generating hundreds of thousands of internal refugees fleeing villages destroyed by the US and its allies.
Most damning, and stomach churning, is the extent to which the US used every technological means at its disposal, short of its nuclear arsenal, to destroy the “VC” in the South Vietnamese countryside. Here is a point that readers unfamiliar with the war may not realize: The US devoted much of its energy to supporting the South Vietnamese government in its efforts to root out an internal challenge from liberation forces allied with the Communist North Vietnamese.

So the US was “at war” with the North, allied with the South. Indeed, beginning with “Operation Rolling Thunder” in February 1965 continuing through 1968, an average of thirty-two tons of bombs were dropped each hour in the North.
But most of the war was fought in South Vietnam — the US was fighting an insurgency within its ally’s borders. South Vietnam received (bore) the bulk of the destruction, and the majority of the casualties were South Vietnamese. North Vietnam was the “enemy,” but the people of South Vietnam were the primary targets.
The numbers are staggering. Thirty billion pounds of munitions spent. Seventy million liters of herbicidal agents (like Agent Orange) sprayed. Twenty-one million bomb craters created in the South. Four hundred thousand tons of napalm dropped.
The evolution of napalm over the course of the war gives some sense of the terror that fell from the sky: a burn agent, it was “improved” with polystyrene, to help it stick better to skin, and phosphorus, to ensure that it would continue to work in water.

Another anti-personnel weapon was the “pineapple,” a “bomblet” that released 250 steel pellets on detonation. “One B-52 could drop 1,000 pineapples across a 400-yard area. As they burst open, 250,000 lethal ball bearings would tear through everything in the blast radius.” Between these and the larger “guava” cluster bombs, over the course of the war the US bought 322 million: seven for each man, woman, and child in the whole of the Southeast Asian theater (Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam).
It seems sociopathic on the part of the war-planners like Robert McNamara to have imagined (if they ever did) that such destruction could be controlled, but it’s clear from Turse’s story that there wasn’t much effort to do so.

Mass killing was encouraged, and when lines were crossed, as they often were, most of the military brass averted their eyes, engaged in cover-ups and denials, or took small, secret steps to redress some of the most egregious actions.
The story of My Lai again becomes typical of a larger pattern: only one lieutenant, William Calley, was successfully prosecuted for war crimes, leaving many of his superiors and others who oversaw or committed the systematic murders uncharged or acquitted of charges brought against them. Calley himself was later pardoned by President Nixon.

I remember that he was given a number of good jobs after the pardon (which served as an example of men who obeyed orders without question to others who may have considered waffling).

Kill Anything That Moves provides us with both the forest and the trees of the destruction meted out during the US war in Vietnam. It is groundbreaking and essential for those reasons. But it is not exactly revelatory.

You don’t have to be a scholar or contemporary of the period to see that many of the sources cited data from the war period itself, or have been gathered and examined by previous scholars. Again, Robert Lifton, speaking at the VVAW’s Winter Soldier Investigation in 1971, observed there was an “overall sense, shared by the larger society (whatever its position about the war) and the vets themselves, that this is a dirty war.”
And why did the public hold such a view? My own sense is that the antiwar movement deserves the bulk of the credit: both for unveiling the horrors that Turse details in his book, as well as creating the understanding within the “larger society” of whom Lifton speaks that Vietnam was a “dirty war.”

So the scanty treatment that this movement receives in this otherwise strong book is both a bit mystifying and troubling.

Like the war itself, the antiwar movement was, in many respects, exceptional. No antiwar movement of the twentieth century compares to the international mobilization opposing the war in Southeast Asia, and it could be argued that no social movement of the twentieth century involved as many people in the United States as did the Vietnam antiwar movement. Historian Mel Small estimates that six million people in this country actively participated in the movement, with another twenty-five million closely sympathizing.

Opposition to the war was not limited college students, elites, or fractions of particular groups. As I demonstrate in my own work, opposition to the war came from all sectors of US society, with rates of antiwar sentiment among soldiers and veterans as high as those found on college campuses. Movement actors included housewives, unionists, clergy, veterans, civil rights and black power activists; cities across the country had their largest demonstrations to this day held against the war. In all of these instances, the movement spoke about the atrocities committed in Southeast Asia.

. . . The common knowledge the movement, journalists, and whistleblowers helped create has, of course, been actively revised in the decades since. The memory of Vietnam has remained a central site of political contestation because of the truths it revealed — not just about the basic moral standing of the US in the world, but the truth about war itself. But the force of any knowledge, any set of truths, is only as strong as the people, institutions, and actions that uphold them.

With its focus on individual revelations (not to mention individual atrocities),Kill Anything That Moves risks obscuring the collective efforts it takes to both make and unmake these wars. I hope that this book becomes a canonical reference point for our understanding of the American war in Vietnam, but I suspect it only will if larger social forces — beyond muckraking journalists and brave whistleblowers — successfully challenge the presumptions and consequences of the wars we continue to wage.

(Penny Lewis is the author of Hardhats, Hippies and Hawks: The Vietnam Antiwar Movement as Myth and Memory (Cornell University Press, 2013). She is an assistant professor of Labor Studies at the Joseph S. Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies at the City University of New York.)

And as for today?

How have things now changed?

Don't ask.

Cause they're much much worse.

And no one (except the new liars on the right wing) wants you to know.

Clusterfuck Nation – Blog

April 21, 2014

What’s Been and What’s Next

The wonder is that more Americans are not ticked off about the state of our country than whatever is happening ten thousand miles away. For instance, how come the US Department of Justice is not as avid to prosecute the pervasive racketeering in the US economy as the State Department is for provoking unnecessary wars in foreign lands on the other side of the planet, over matters that have little bearing on life here? This racketeering, by the way, amounts to a war against American citizens.

I’m speaking especially of the US military racket, the banking and finance rackets, the health care racket and the college loan racket, all of which have evolved insidiously and elegantly to swindle the public in order to support a claque of American oligarchs.

In other civilized lands, health care and college are considered the highest priority public goods (i.e. responsibilities of government), and national resources are applied to support them under the theory that bankrupting people for an appendectomy or a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering is not in the public interest.

In our land, that would be considered “socialism.” Instead, we “socialize” the costs of supporting Too Big To Fail banks — so their employees can drive Beemers to their Hamptons summer house partiesand a military machine that goes around the world wrecking one country after another to support a parasitical class of contractors, lobbyists, and bought-off politicians in their northern Virginia McMansions.

Hence, the laughable conceit pinging through the news media lately that some dynastic grifter like Jeb Bush or Hillary Clinton will slide into the White House in 2016 as easily as a watermelon seed popped into a shot glass.

I don’t think it’s going to work out that way. The US political system needs to be turned upside down and inside out, and I expect that it will be. Either it happens within the bounds of electoral politics, or you’ll see it playing out in the streets and the windswept plains.

Just a glance around the USA these days ought to nauseate the casual observer. We have an infrastructure for everyday life that is failing in every way imaginable. Are you disturbed by the asteroid belts of vacant strip malls outside your town? Or the empty store fronts along your Main Streets?

What do you suppose these places will be like in ten years when the mirage of shale oil dissolves in a mist of disappointment and political grievance?

How are Americans going to feel, do you suppose, when gasoline just isn’t there at a price they can pay, and they are marooned in delaminating strand-board-and-vinyl houses 23 miles away from anything? Does the sheer immersive ugliness of the human imprint on the American landscape not give you the shivers?

Look at the pathetic and disgusting appearance of our cities, which for the most part present themselves as demolition derby arenas or war zones — except the strongholds of the red-white-and-blue oligarchs: Washington, San Francisco, and especially New York, Financialization Central.

What happens at the “magic moment” when Facebook stops being a narcissistic virtual playground for “selfies” and becomes a bulletin board for political revolution? Think that can’t happen here? And what if that revolution is a kind that doesn’t appeal to you — say, a revolution of race hatred, or fascist zealotry, or Marxist gangsterism of the type that took Russia hostage for 70 years?

All this is happening, incidentally, because the supposed best minds in our nation are paying no attention whatsoever to the most important story of our lifetime: the winding down of the techno-industrial global economy. It doesn’t really matter anymore why they don’t get it. Hubris. Greed. Distraction. Denial.

All that matters is that they can’t be depended on and when that happens authority loses legitimacy. And when it comes to that, all bets are off.

The disintegration of Ukraine would be best understood by Americans as a mirror of ourselves and our sclerotic republic, poised to sink into poverty and disorder. Everything we do and say rings hollow now. What used to be called The Establishment has run out of ways to even pretend to save itself. We have no idea what’s next, but it’s not going to be more of what’s been.

Published as an E-book for the first time!

The 20th Anniversary edition

With an entertaining new introduction by the author


Bargain Price $3.99

KunstlerCast 252 – Chatting with KMO of the C-Realm

JHK’s conversation with KMO of the C-Realm Podcast. KMO, who goes by that tag for his public persona, is one of the best interviewers in the podcast world. I’ve been listening to him for years, and have been on his podcast more than once, so it’s a treat to have him on mine. KMO is moving beyond the particulars of the collapse of industrial civilization to questions of what’s next under the circumstances.

The KunstlerCast music is “Adam and Ali’s Waltz” from the recording Waiting to Fly by Mike and Ali Vass.

Direct Download: KunstlerCast 252 – Chatting with KMO of the C-Realm
Please send questions and comments to

Posts by James Howard Kunstler

(James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.)


TONY said...

'Ill fares the land,
To hastening ills a prey,
Where wealth accumulates
and men decay.' - Goldsmith

Cirze said...


But what is these days?

Lifted from Driftglass with love:

. . . With such precautions the courtiers might bid defiance to contagion. The external world could take care of itself. In the meantime it was folly to grieve, or to think. The prince had provided all the appliances of pleasure. There were buffoons, there were improvisatori, there were ballet-dancers, there were musicians, there was Beauty, there was wine. All these and security were within. Without was the "Red Death."

It was toward the close of the fifth or sixth month of his seclusion, and while the pestilence raged most furiously abroad, that the Prince Prospero entertained his thousand friends at a masked ball of the most unusual magnificence.

It was a voluptuous scene, that masquerade. . .

-- But unlike the brutal fate of the revelers in Poe's story --

. . . And now was acknowledged the presence of the Red Death. He had come like a thief in the night. And one by one dropped the revellers in the blood-bedewed halls of their revel, and died each in the despairing posture of his fall. And the life of the ebony clock went out with that of the last of the gay. And the flames of the tripods expired. And Darkness and Decay and the Red Death held illimitable dominion over all.

-- the habitues of the Versailles on the Potomac remain completely unaffected by the experience.