Bill Totten's Weblog

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Beyond 'Coming Together'

Clusterfuck Nation

by Jim Kunstler

Comment on current events by the author of
The Long Emergency
(Atlantic Monthly Press, 2005) (January 07 2008)

I apologize for the late start. Scooter the cat didn't come in last night until 3 am.

The Iowa caucus set into motion a curious self-reinforcing feedback loop of inspiration - that an African-American political leader could win an important primary contest in a Wonder Bread state, and that all Americans (especially white Americans) could "feel good" about living in a country where such a thing is possible. This is an understandable sentiment. Whatever else Americans have been conditioned to be lately - blubbery, debt-crushed, tattoo-etched, Jesus-haunted, multiply-addicted TV zombies - a residual kernel of fairness seems to persist underneath all that cellulite and avarice. Catching a glimpse of our formerly better collective selves, we seem moved to discover that it's still there, although the element of self-congratulation gets tiresome quickly.

In any case, it was satisfying to see Barack Obama whip Hillary Clinton's entitled, presumptuous ass in Iowa last week, and by a very healthy margin. All other things aside - like, what he actually thinks about the state of the nation - Obama is a more reassuring figure than the Lady Macbeth-like former first lady, with her retinue of policy earls and thanes, and the creepy figure of her Mac-husband ever-grinning upstage.

I could get behind Obama, if it comes to it, but these days another feeling dogs me - that we live in a nation where a lot more people than just Hillary Clinton need to get their asses whipped (and then some), and I like John Edwards a bit better in the role. On the night of the Iowa caucuses, John Edwards made an appeal to the audience that just seemed more reality-based to me than Obama's platitudes about bringing people together.

Edwards seems to recognize that there are some people - like the health care executive he cited who retired from his job with over $100 million in the policy-holders loot - who don't deserve to come together with anything except a grand jury. Edwards is willing to gaze past the kindergarten emotions of primary politics and see the stupendous ugliness and unfairness of a land that is being sucked dry by corporate vampires. I believe he will righteously kick their asses, and that they need to get their asses kicked, so I'm more inclined to support Edwards. I believe he means it, too.

I was impressed that night by the TV commercial that followed Obama's speech. The commercial promoted a hydrogen car that General Motors is pretending to develop. It was very slick, of course, since GM can get the best TV production talent money can buy. It featured a light-skinned African-American man (not unlike Obama) playing a sort of Mr Science Teacher role among a flower-strewn meadow full of schoolchildren with a modest GM sedan at the center of the picture. Mr Science Teacher was telling the kids how this new GM wonder car would run without any nasty gasoline, and out of its tailpipe would come nothing but pure clean water, and wasn't the future-according-to-General-Motors a fabulous thing! It was all very heartwarming, except it was complete mendacious bullshit. GM will never produce a commercial line of hydrogen-powered cars, and America will never set up a supporting infrastructure of hydrogen production and retail fueling stations. And GM knows all this.

General Motors deserves to have its ass kicked for misleading the public so shamelessly. I think Edwards is the only candidate who would kick their ass. I'm not quite sure how he would do it, or what he would say, but here's how I suggest he should frame the issue. "General Motors, can you take some of the money and human capital that you devote to misleading the public about hydrogen cars, and see if you can apply it instead to producing some decent up-to-date rolling stock for the US railroad system, which we have got to get up-and-running again - or I WILL KICK YOUR ASS". Something like that.

I can see Edwards dealing effectively with Wall Street, too. As president he would probably find that there are some agencies all saddled up and ready to ride, like the Securities and Exchange Commission, and certain offices within the US Department of Justice, which could be motivated to ask some of the questions that various boards of directors have overlooked for some years now - such as ... how come Mr Disgraced Executive is backing up his Lincoln Navigator to the loading dock of Acme Banking and Trust, and piling in sacks of the shareholders' money (after presiding over $10 billion worth of losses in acting as counter-party to an illegal trade in his company's own engineered fraudulent securities ...?

So, these are some of my own dark thoughts coming out of Iowa and heading right smack into the New Hampshire primary. I'm reasonably confident that Hillary will stagger out of the Granite State with a stake through her heart. I hope Edwards can stay on his feet long enough to make make a run going into the SuperDuper gauntlet of primaries that follows. He may even condition Obama to toughen up some and realize that bringing people together (to be chumps and saps for the ghouls who sell them Cheesburgers) is not the sovereign remedy for what ails Clusterfuck Nation.

I don't much care for the moment what happens among the Republicans. Their party is doomed. They're the Whigs of the 21st Century, and their grandees will be remembered in the same way that we revere William Henry Harrison and Millard Fillmore (whose birthday is tomorrow, by the way - New York State employees take note!). It's been fun following the adventures of Huckabee, but only in the way that it was fun following Elmer Fudd as a six-year-old.

Bill Totten


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