Monday, March 13, 2006

Doomsday politics

I really wonder just how much good Doomsday Politics does for anyone. James Howard Kunstler is surely the loudest proponent of it right now. His "Clusterfuck Nation" blog is only about that. George Lakoff must be wondering what happened to his new framing of the issues. When Kunstler gets through with Lakoff's "strict father" analogy, we are left with Jay Leno without the humor.
Because Daddy is failing so badly, and the family anxiety level is so high, the children allied with Mommy have fantasized a dark Daddy alter-ego that they transfer their fears to. That's Vice-president Dick Cheney. Daddy's activities may be mysterious, but his alter-ego's duties are clear: to keep those corporate systems running things in the background happy and productive by any means necessary. Nobody doubts the alter-ego's power and influence in these matters. He is considered as adept as Daddy is inept. If you cross him, he might even blow your head off, so watch out.

Is it too much to think that a political blogger might have a fresh idea about how to fix something? Is it too much to hope that just maybe there are voters who are willing to think? that there are positive things we should be doing if we only had the will to do so? Kunstler seems to think that we are in terminal suburban flight.
What these pimps and geniuses don't get is that America's future is all about discontinuity. Virtually everything you see out there will not keep going. We will discontinue granting interest only, adjustable rate mortgage loans for half-million-dollar McHouses to schlemiels one paycheck away from bankruptcy -- because the practice will prove to be reckless and ruinous not only for the schlemiels, but for the financial system as a whole. Americans will stop moving to the Sunbelt when they discover what life is really like in Phoenix and Houston without cheap air conditioning. After the suburbs implode financially from a pandemic of defaulted mortgages, we will see how well they operate on $5-a-gallon gasoline (or higher), and how carefree it is to heat a 4000-square-foot McHouse in a permanent natural gas crisis. We'll also discover that telecommuting over the Internet is not so "cool" in brownout nation.

Just what should our Green Candidates be talking about that will really make a difference? I don't think that Kunstler's doomsday scenario is going to do it, even though he may be right.

I will offer space on this blog to any Green Candidate who has an idea that is specific to California and who want's to get it out to a wider audience. Just send a document with the text or an email to me at wrolley at If you have published it elsewhere, just send me the link.


Anonymous said...

- Reflections from March 2003

Snapshot : Thoughts & Observations on the Iraq Invasion (March 2003) : Years of advertising have conditioned Americans to pay attention only to repeated messages and as a result "News" has become an ongoing 'massage', a stream of noise that really does not make an impression on Americans unless repeated incessantly and accompanied by strong visual images. The Bush administration relies on the assumption that an uninformed electorate -- much more interested in discovering who is going to marry a fake millionaire or how much of a "problem" Michael Jackson has -- will never really look beyond the rhetoric.

We should ask ourselves what is really underlying the motivation for the recent escalation in the Gulf, aka 'regime change.' This invasion did not start in Iraq. It will not end there. Its essential that we keep our eyes on future oil contracts and their related money flows (Dollar, Euro and Yen). What is unfolding in Iraq/Syria/Iran is not simply "a war for oil" but rather for oil as a means to EMPIRE -- that is, oil/natural gas/energy reserves as instruments of global power and the maintenance of U.S. global geopolitical hegemony. It is a war fought to ensure global hegemony and to prop up jobs & capital spending. It is ensures a secure & consistent supply of oil to the US -- and, further --- control of oil flows to China, Japan and India. It also ensures coordination of support the continued flow of wealth to the already very ultrawealthy in this nation (the top 1% -- which now upwards of 36% to 54% of the nation's wealth [depending on which asset classes you're focusing on])? What about third world labor circuits? US per capita income now averages $38,000 per year with a majority of the world's population making less than $750 per year (i.e., less than $2 per day). This gap and disparity keys off of British & American trade flow hegemony and surplus value appropriation in China, India, Latin America and South East Asia.

As for Iraq, the men & women sent to fight in this unprovoked illegal invasion have absolutely no choice whether or not to participate; if they are members of the military, must go where their commanding officers send them. Many of our troops may completely disagree with the motives their commanders have for waging this war, and many of them may feel that if they are injured or die in this war, they have thrown away their lives or their health simply to line an already rich man's pocket -- and indeed, many of them may feel that fighting in this war is morally wrong, and that they are being forced to murder innocent people in Iraq with no choice in the matter.

When I say I support American/Coalition troops, which I do most certainly, I mean that I support their right to not be misused by their commanders, to not be forced to fight in an INTERNATIONALLY ILLEGAL war -- and that is exactly what this war is; under international law, pre-emptive strikes against other nations are illegal. If the U.S. can act preemptively what prevents China from doing the same with respect to Taiwan or Japan? Think about the implications. Team Bush is captalizing on the widely-known tendency of Americans to rally behind the President and our troops at risk. Further, the influence of the military on the corporate media's message cannot be underestimated. But there are deeper reasons: the palpable fear among most Americans of another 9/11 reinforced by constant terrorism alerts and threats. Big Brother (the CIA and The White House) successfully exploits and manipulates these fears, just as local "law and order" politics at home is based on public fear of gangs, violence and crime. For large numbers of Americans, this fear of "the Other" has been a dominant pattern going back to the foundations of the country. It is based on a legacy of superiority, racism, ignorance, and the need to find shadowy enemies as "evil" in order to prove ourselves virtuous.

Nothing seems to overcome this fear. Even when Big Brother - the CIA - informs us there is no evidence pointing to an Iraqi-Al Qaeda connection, it doesn't reduce the fear in many. Even when rational arguments are made by respected writers and diplomats that the long-term causes of violence must be addressed, it doesn't end the panic about now. Intelligent, well-connected citizens of New York City are making out their wills, sure that a terrorist cell is readying itself for another strike.

Our troops should not have to come home to live the rest of their lives with the feeling that they murdered innocent people, even innocent "enemy" soldiers, by following orders they had to obey in order to avoid indefinite imprisonment, dishonorable discharge, and possibly worse. They should also not be required to risk their lives and health through ongoing exposure to depleted uranium and other radioactive munitions being used by the U.S. military in Iraq. If we really belive our troops are our most precious national resource, then our nation should utilize them most sparingly; that means our troops should be sent into war only as a very last resort, and then with as little risk to their lives and health as is humanly possible. Why are we sending our troops to suffer and die in a war against a small, econonomically crippled, militarily obsolete, and extremely impoverished middle-eastern nation whose own neighbors don't even consider them a threat? We are invading Iraq. A country whose army is one-fifth (1/5) the size it was in 1991 and which the U.N. has acknowledged as having eliminated at least 95% of the weapons of mass destruction it had in 1991.

Why have we chosed to attack this country, Iraq, when other nations, like North Korea, possess a proven and clear threat to the United States? The answer is OIL AS A MEANS TO EMPIRE AND TO POWER, which is at this time the lifeblood of the US and the global economy, and which is also the source of the great wealth possessed by the current U.S. president and the current U.S. vice-president as well. To understand why to many people "supporting our troops" in this war means removing them from it entirely, please consider the mental conflict suffered by many German soldeirs in and before WW II. Germany waged several illegal wars leading up to WW II, which were pre-emptive and were designed to expand German territory and fortify the German economy. The soldiers fighting in the German wars were required, since they were enlisted in/drafted by the German military, to follow orders regardless of what they believed was morally correct, and regardless of how they felt about sacrificing their own lives to accomplish the goals of their commanders. After WW II, approximately 5,000 soldiers who were "following orders" were charged with war crimes ( because they carried out the criminal orders of their superiors. Many of the soldiers charged with these crimes said, during their trials, that they did not believe their actions were morally correct, but that they felt compelled to carry out the inhumane and illegal orders of their superiors because the consequences for not doing so were imprisonment and execution. Is it not possible that many, many of the soldiers fighting in the current US-led war against Iraq feel that way too, especially considering that the vast majority (161 of 191 nations in the United Nations) of the world's nations have denounced this war as inhumane and illegal? France, Germany, Russia, China...etc. The 31 nations that have come over to the side of the U.S. coalition of the "willing" have only 5 nations that have actually contributed headcount (military personnel) to the invasion effort. U.S. and UK force account for over 95% of the actual invading forces. Coalition of the willing? No. Coalition of the coerced and financially cajoled.

Throughout world history powerful leaders have sometimes made horrendous decisions, decisions that led to events like the Manchurian Holocaust by the Japanese, the use of atomic weapons, the massacre of America's native popluations (at least 13 million killed during U.S. colonization and expansion), the enslavement of people from other nations, the oppression of women and ethnic minorities, the murder of innocent civilians for the purposes of "expansion", the ongoing and increasing oppression of the third world's working class labor circuits (see Saskia Sassen's book "The Global City"), exposure of the military to unjustifiable danger and dangerous substances (examples: agent orange in the Vietnam War and depleted uranium in this war), etc. Frequently these leaders were acting in direct opposition to the will of the people, sometimes these leaders simply murdered anyone who didn't agree with them, and sometimes these leaders fooled or lulled the majority of the people they were leading, through propaganda and mass communications (witness Herman Goering and Fox News), to follow their destructive directions. Since such bad decisions have certainly and frequently been made by national leaders throughout history from ancient to recent, we must consider at least the possibility that our own leaders could be making immoral and generally poor decisions as well, and fooling the majority of the American people -- through propaganda and an increasingly concentrated mass media -- into following the destructive paths they have chosen.

I'm not asking you to capitulate this instant and say "Oh OK, now I'm against the war, down with Bush!!", but rather to consider just the possibility that Bush may be making a series of destructive decisions based on motives we would not support if we were privileged to really know them; and to also consider that perhaps nations like Germany, France, Canada, and even Iraq's direct neighbor Turkey, have very good reasons, based on factual information rather than emotionally manipulative speeches and government-issued propaganda, for their strong opposition to this war. Team Bush (Cheney, Carlyle Group & Exxon-Mobil as prime puppeteers) are heading for a hollow victory, at best, and perhaps a quagmire of unprecedented proportions.

Quotes for Our Times: "I know two types of law because I know two types of men, those who are with us and those who are against us." - Hermann Goering, 1936
"You are either with us or against us."- George W. Bush, November 2001
"Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." - George W. Bush, September 2002
"If our nation is ever taken over, it will be taken over from within."- President James Madison

"What we are talking about here - whether one wants to recognize it or not, or call it by its proper name or not - is a form of self-censorship. I worry that patriotism run amok will trample the very values that the country seeks to defend."


"It's unpatriotic not to stand up, look them in the eye, and ask the questions they don't want to hear - they being those who have the responsibility, the ultimate responsibility in a society such as ours, of sending our sons and daughters, our husbands, wives, our blood, to face death, to take death..."

- Dan Rather, in an interview with BBC's Newsnight, UK Independent, (London, May 17, 2002)


"There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop. And you've got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you're free and unless they're free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!"

- Mario Savio (Berkeley, 1968)


"Great lions can find peace in a cage.
But we should only do that
as a last

So those bars I see that restrain your wings,
I guess you won't mind
if I pry them

- rumi

Wes said...

I am not sure who is hiding in the matrix, but that is not the style we welcome here, where transparency and individual responsibility is valued. In fact, they are necessary for true communication.

Besides, what has this to do with either California or the Greening thereof.