Note to all: I've been travelling from Mexico, and my internet service provider (Qwest) was no doubt at that five day convention in the Bahamas, and was too busy to get me connected to the internet by TELEPHONE! I hate Qwest. In any event, I've had time to ponder a few things about the present condition, helped immeasurably by the fact that I've been out of the US for six months.
Since we're all living in the post bin Laden age, it seems to me that a comparable historical period to where we are now is 1947, the year I was born. In 1947 the Dumont Television Network was broadcasting. The State of Israel was founded, and Bell Labs invented the transistor. Not even the smartest or most powerful person back then would have more than a germ of an idea as to the vast implications of these events, and we're in the same position. I can only pinpoint some phenomonena that seem significant. Like 1947, most of our mentality is still focused on the way things were rather than the way things are shaping up to be. And like 1947, the way the United States was even four years ago are dead and gone, and we will never return to that time period ever again.
PART I: LOWER MIDDLE CLASS USA
First of all, financial crashes like the Crash of 2008 always last considerably longer than other types of recessions/depressions. From a cultural and sociological standpoint, a whole heap o' gob of formerly middle class people are doomed to spending the rest of their lives as underemployed at best. The 2005 lifestyle of that McMansion, three SUVs, and maxing out your credit cards is permanently gone. And with the dumbing down of the American educational system (among other things), the plutocrats have been tremendously successful in creating that mass servant class that they've always been dreaming of. The 98% have been impoverished for the benefit of the 2% living in their bubbles.
The glass ceiling has now become the concrete ceiling, and we have to go back to 1929 (or pre-revolutionary Russia in 1914) to see such an uneven distribution of income. Looking at Japan, it had its peak year in 1989, we can see that it has not yet recovered from its economic calamity. So why should we be any different?
Symptomatic of the permanent changes we're facing are the role models that are spoon fed to the sheeple through television. When I was a young whippersnapper, we watched I Love Lucy or Leave It to Beaver. The mirror held up to America was at least solidly middle class, and Beaver even had whiffs of upper middle class to it if you looked at the neighborhood the Cleavers lived in. Not so today.
My granddaughter introduced me to that lardy TV snack known as Mormon Wives, a reality show set in Utah and Vegas. I said to myself, "These people have too much money to be whitetrash," but it's close. And of course, although I've never seen Jersey Shore, somehow I don't think Snooki is going to Radcliffe College. If the degenerate reality shows don't hold a mirror up to the face of that 300 pound shopper in Wal-Mart, I don't know what does.
PART II: WHY WE'LL STAY IN IRAQ FOREVER
A very revealing interview on Sunday, June 5 on Background Briefing on KPFK- FM, Los Angeles (http://archive.kpfk.org/parchives) with Col. Lawrence Wilkinson, chief aide to Colin Powell, reveals the ugly truth about our supposed withdrawal from Iraq. Wilkinson cites sources who say that Iraq has at a minimum, 100 billion barrels of oil in proven reserves, and probably has has 200B barrels of oil waiting in the ground. There's even the outside probability that it has more than 300B bbls, even more than Saudi Arabia!
The silver lining in the cloud is that it may not be necessary to maintain a major ground force in Iraq. The US Navy will still be required to do duty in the Persian Gulf, as since we eliminated Saddam Hussein, we are the balance of power in the region. Another positive aspect to the Iraqi situation is that as long as the system of pipelines operates smoothly, there should be no reason to maintain a massive military footprint on the ground. Get used to the Iraqis eventually taking the stage as a regional and world power similar to that currently enjoyed by the Saudis.
PART III: THE TEA PARTY WILL EVAPORATE LIKE A MUD PUDDLE IN THE SUN
I have a high degree of confidence in making this assertion for a number of reasons. In the shortest term, the smart money in Washington, DC is betting that the government will dork around until the last moment, probably some time next month, whereby Establishment Ds will join hands with Establishment Rs and prevent the world from falling into an economic black hole by the default on the payment of our Treasuries. This will leave the Tea Party-oids out, standing in a right field of their own. In a lose-lose situation, it appears as if the Michelle Bachmans of DC will lose a considerable amount of influence.
At the same time, given that America is faced with multiple cults of personality in the clowns running for POTUS from the GOP, the Republican primary process will eliminate one little tin god/godess after another. Given the fact that many of the 'baggers have authoritarian personalities, this will mean that they will traditionally follow the path that many cultists have had when their leader disappears. They will fade back into the woodwork and become non-involved in American politics.
Similar pressure for leaving the American political scene comes from the long term success of gay rights in this country. One of the hot button issues of Focus On The Family will gain more acceptance at every level of this country. While pro-life forces will no doubt continue to agitate, they will be missing significant engine parts of the right wing machine.
And the 2010 Census shows a continuing rapid increase in Hispanic voters, which must be factored into states like Florida and Texas among others. Whether this exit stage right will lead to Democratic majorities or a revolution of rising expectations that could transform American society is a completely different thing.
PART IV: WAR BY OTHER MEANS (ON THE ENVIRONMENT)
Seaports are not usually a very interesting issue, but Gwandar, Pakistan and Bellingham, Washington are exceptions. Looking at these two ports puts the American and Chinese empires into a very clear perspective. Gwandar is being developed with Chinese money, and its major purpose is to eventually funnel copper and natural gas from Afghanistan into Pakistan to feed the insatiable demand for these commodities in the Peoples Republic of China. Although the controlling developer appears to be Singapore, it's quite obvious that the beneficiary of Gwandar is Beijing.
Rumors had it that the Chinese Navy was going to establish a naval base at Gwandar to rival our base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, but this appears to have been a fairy tale started by gossipmongers in Pakistan to upset Uncle Sam. But if this doesn't highlight the differences between China and the USA -- go to Bellingham.
China is having a drought. Things are so bad that they have to run the Three Gorges Dam below its recommended water level because the country is having such a serious electricity shortage. What China has been forced to do is to maximize its use of dirty electric coal plants.
And guess what? America has co-operated so smoothly that you didn't even see it. Barack Obama authorized the reopening of the Powder River Basin, which will eventually produce 750M tons of coal, much of which will be shipped eventually through the Port of Bellingham if it isn't used by coal plants in the American West.
How's that for global economic co-operation, international trade, and global warming? I'd like my Big Mac supersized with an order of planet fries, please. And a Big Gulp to go. My SUV is running.