The blame game

The blogosphere is ripe with discussion of this country’s unfolding financial collapse. The collapse of the big banks has begun in earnest, and there’s nothing you, me, or the federal government can do about it. Over at Clusterfuck Nation, James Howard Kunstler is asking us to place blame squarely on Republican shoulders, asking us to re-brand the Grand Old Party as “the party that wrecked America.” I’ve got no problem blaming BushCo and his Republican predecessors for putting us in these dire straits. But I think there’s plenty of blame to go around.

Let’s start with Barack Obama, the current “Democrat” trying to get past the Republican smear machine. I can’t imagine he’ll be successful, in large part because, as Stalin pointed out, “It’s not who votes that counts, it’s who counts the votes.” The Republicans are infamous for stealing elections, and they’re working hard to steal this one. But they’re starting out by labeling Obama a “liberal” (I’m old enough to remember when that was a good thing), even though his political hero is Ronald Reagan, who ran away from the liberal label during his presidential campaigns.
Before Obama we have to go back nearly eight years to that most recent Democratic president, Bill Clinton. Actually, I steal a line from my older and wiser brother in referring to Bill Clinton as the best Republican president since Eisenhower. But Clinton called himself a Democrat, so I’ll run with that, for now, while pointing out that his success depended greatly on his ability to outflank Congressional Republicans on the political right. Before Clinton, we have to go back to 1977-1980 to find Democrat Jimmy Carter, who is widely regarded as the worst president in my lifetime (incorrectly, in my opinion).
Ronald Reagan and then George Herbert Walker Bush were sandwiched between Carter and Clinton, and the Reagan-Bush years are widely recognized as the years that led the way into neoconservatism in this country (actually, the notion was gaining traction by the time Reagan spoke at the Goldwater GOP convention, but that’s a quibble). Reagan was formerly a liberal Democrat with Trotsky-esque tendencies, as were the founders and early leaders of neoconservatism.
Thus, I trace the demise of political parties as disparate entities to Reagan’s election in 1980. With the 1980 election, the United States embraced a single ideology: economic growth. Political party no longer mattered because the ideology crossed party lines. And this dangerous ideology absolutely required imperialism. This country lacks the resources, particularly fossil fuels, to become self-sufficient while also growing our economy. By 1980, you might as well start calling nearly everybody in this country a Demoblican, or a Republicrat, or, more simply, a Democratic-Republican.
For that reason, I think this election matters little and perhaps not at all. Previous elections mattered a lot. This one, not so much. And I doubt your vote in 2012, should you be allowed to cast one, will even be counted. Obama, McCain, or — most likely, in my view — Palin (in the wake of McCain’s death) get to preside over the smoldering remains of the U.S. economy before 2012.
Of course, America as Empire is hardly new. FDR wriggled us into World War II explicitly to maintain supply lines, hence access, to fossil fuels. And before FDR, we can trace imperialism, or colonialism, or economic growth at the point of a gun, or whatever label you want to place on Empire, to the tenure of Woodrow Wilson. The famous “Wilson Doctrine” indicates that the United States should not attempt to create an empire, but rather a global democracy of equal and independent nations. But Wilson’s brand of democracy was restricted to the “right” people. His soaring rhetoric rings hollows when contrasted with his deeds, which included brutal U.S. invasions of Haiti and the Dominican Republic, inspired by racism. As an aside, Wilson is associated, and sometimes credited, with the conspicuous rise of neoliberalism in the United States. Neoliberalism is the economic equivalent of neoconservatism.
While we’re thinking about racist imperialists, we can go back further. Thomas Jefferson was, and is, widely recognized as one of the most enlightened of the founding fathers. As I mentioned and documented in an earlier post, imperialist Jefferson commented about native Americans: “In war, they will kill some of us; we shall destroy all of them.” Jefferson, along with James Madison, founded the Democratic-Republican political party.
I couldn’t make up this stuff.

Comments 24

  • I think Ambrose Bierce defined the term “politics” well:
    “A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage.”
    It is a shame people it wasn’t ever really about principles or we would be in much better shape.
    Tell me, which (if any) of the problems we face today are not the direct result of ignoring the cardinal virtues of prudence, justice, restraint, and courage.
    Instead, we are a nation of prurient, greedy, gluttonous,lazy, angry, envious, and pompous bunch of cretins. And the whole place is falling down around our ears as a result. And people are surprized by it?
    Crazy world. Isn’t it?
    I couldn’t care less about the next election if I tried. No one is telling the hard truth: “Wake up America, you’ve been wrong and you need to start behaving yourself.”
    Nope, we’re going to keep enabling this mess for as long as we can hold out.

  • Dear Professor Guy,
    I concur.Perhaps the most egregious example of naked
    empire building in our history was the theft of Hawaii,carried out not by our government,but by a cabal of criminal American planters and businessmen led by Sanford Dole,in a private,commercial coup.

  • I agree with Charlene.
    Her cretins must the same group I call the “Yuppie Scum “.The empirical evidence of their existence is all around us.The best example is any sports bar on a Friday night.Pick out the largest sports bar in your area and go there at 6:00 PM.
    Your observation of the resident crowd will confirm Charlene’s accurate and apt
    That they are pompous is well described by Jose Ortega in “Revolt of the Masses”.

  • The media glorifies the Cretin/Yuppie Scum crowd as the American ideal.Every episode of Miami CSI,the most popular TV series, begins with a repellent and nauseating depiction of this rabble.

  • If one reads Howard Zinn’s “People’s History of the United States” and examines the past two hundred plus years of our history from the perspective of the underdog and the dispossessed, today’s events remain true to form with past patterns.
    In my view, what has changed is the saturation of the open spaces on the map with people, essentially all with the same mindset that has been operating all along.
    The American public is shamefully ignorant about its real history and even about the real motives behind its history. The manipulation through the education system has been highly effective.
    The forces of capitalism and materialism, etc. have been very successful at manipulating the public in such a way as to enrich the upper echelon while simulaneously creating a temporary middle class of Americans that served as an engine of economic growth from which massive wealth could be transferred in small increments from the many to the few. Once the raw ingredients making this engine productive have been liquidated, as in the deplenishment of world natural resources and the deapauperization of the planet, the final strategy appears to me to be the liquidation of the masses of now inconsequential people.
    Both political parties now serve the masters of the corporate elite. Neither is addressing with honesty and integrity the driving forces behind our current patterns of pre-collapse.
    Interestintly, the Republicans, just a few decades ago, under Nixon, of all people, had the administration that enacted the Endangered Species Act, the Clean Air and Water Acts, the Environmental Protection Act, and other hallmarks of today’s environmentalism. Reagan showed that shrewd marketing used in politics could create the illusion of prosperity. Just a few months ago Dick Cheney was interviewed in the news and cited Reagan as demonstrating the “deficits don’t matter”. The public ate it all up, grew the deficit, downsized unions, and made the “L” word (liberal) a symbol of derision. Kansas learned to vote against its own self-interest, as Thomas Frank revealed and the Rust-belt voted Republican in its untreated myopia.
    Obama seems very Reaganesque to me. He promises expensive solutions to people knowing full well he could never pay for them, but it is a tried and proven strategy for getting elected. Carter proved that honesty gets you nowhere in politics.
    One interesting likelihood from here is that if the worldwide economy crashes due to financial shenanigans and it affects petroleum consumption drastically worldwide, that old Hubbert Peak plateau will continue flatlining for a while longer. It will be the kind of limbo that will possibly drive James Howard Kunstler into the literal madhouse. I’d like to see Kunstler and Karl Rove face to face on the Sunday Morning Punditfests. Take them both off their blood pressure medication for a week prior to the show and give them both rubber knives and watch the fun. Then the winner can take on Biden. This is the sort of reality tv that might get me back in front of a television for a limited period of ten or fifteen minutes, or at least to watch the highlights.
    Has Robert Novak, the Prince of Darkness died and gone to Hell yet? On, right, I’m not religious, so scratch that one.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Question for Stan Moore:
    You’re not religious?What about your JW upbringing?
    We are waiting with baited breath for your reply.In fact I baited my breath just now.

  • that was long ago and far away — I do see in myself vestiges of early training, including a proclivity towards judgementalism, though

  • “An’ there ain’t no buses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay” (Kipling).Or for that matter anywhere else pretty soon.

  • speaking (earlier) of religion, I recommend a visit to to read Stan Goff’s essay to U.S. soldiers in Iraq/Afghanistan regarding their Christianity.
    Stan Goff is a very neat guy; to me is to the military what Guy McPherson is to academia. Stan is a retired Special Forces sergeant with extensive experience in warfare, training soldiers, and all things military. He is self-educated on issues of social conscience, Peak Oil, economics, etc. He “gets it” and he is very outspoken, just like our Guy.
    Today’s piece compared current U.S. military occupation forces to those of Rome in the last days of the Roman Empire. He urges soldiers who consider themselves to be Christians to rethink what that assessment should mean in their activities right now as occupiers of foreign lands. He explains his views in terms both scriptural and philosophical. He basically tells U.S. soldiers to love their enemy, retreat from their training that demonizes “the enemy” and resist this war from where they stand, even incurring hardship for taking such a stand.
    Stan Goff is a man of conscience and has a high intellect, with his webpage labeling him as a “Feral Scholar”.
    I emailed Stan and told him that I am not a fellow Christain but I admire his faith and conscience and especially what they lead him to do and to say.
    I have communicated with Stan Goff in the distant past, he remembered me today, and we shared pleasantries before signing off.
    Those who monitor this forum as active Christians will surely appreciate what Stan has to say to soldiers and everyone who profess their faith as Christians in a difficult world situation.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • I think this is a good link to the Stan Goff essay:
    This is a retired Master Sergeant of the U.S. Army Special Forces telling troops to lay down their weapons, disobey orders, and love their enemy!
    Yet, if you wanted security for your planned survival community, you could not have a better friend than Stan Goff. And when you note that he is now an “organic gardener”, you know that Stan is fully Peak Oil aware and preparing for his own survival and that of his wife and family.
    He has a blog that can be accessed at and some here might find of interest his discussion of why soldiers rape.
    Now I lay me back down to sleep…
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Interesting articles, but they confirm something I already believed: government really is just a legal, and more bureaucratic, form of organized crime.
    Also, in terms of Christianity, there is nothing Christian about an unjust war–or any war for that matter. Although, I know some people differ on this point.

  • The financial markets are facing a catastrophic breakdown.If the Dow Jones Industrial Average breaks below 10,000 to 4 figures,and it is getting closer to doing just that,it would mark a monumental technical and psychological failure,with
    repercussions worldwide of
    unimaginable proportions.
    If this happens then the Japanese Nikkei 225,will also break below 10,000.
    The Greatest Depression will then be a recognized
    reality.Wait till to see the headlines around the world on this.

  • Stan’s simple explantion for eonomic crisis:
    Generations ago, frugal businessmen, industrialists, entrepeneurs would save their money, produce something of value (widgets), and sell for profit, thus driving a growing economy.
    Now, there is no frugality, little or no production of things of real value, and instead of saving and investing in enterprise, the entire goal is to borrow and spend lavishly.
    The latter formula drives the economy, but right into the ground, and it is the hallmark of our entire economy from top to bottom.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Stan is right on.
    But our Stan referring to himself in the 3rd person singular !! Tsk,tsk.We can all be grateful that Frank is her to maintain comity.

  • Psychology of Hole Digging
    by anonymous
    In economic terms, it appears that we have gone from a nation of frugal producers to a rabble of conspicuous consumers borrowing from our past, present and future to finance our consumption. The “little guy” borrows from the value of his house to buy an SUV, the President borrows from the Treasury to bomb, bomb, bomb Iraq, Afghanistan, and possibly Iran. Everyone is borrowing from unborn generations of future Americans to be born some day into financial slavery or destitution.
    The psychology seems to be the comfort someone might feel in digging a hole and feeling safe below ground. If that comfort level increases, the person digs deeper and deeper and feels more secure. When anxiety begins to appear that the hole is dangerous or prone to collapse, the response remains: dig, dig, dig. At some point the project must collapse because one cannot dig forever, but one can forestall the inevitable by shoring the walls of the hole on a temporary basis, digging wider rather than deeper, and thus making the repair of the hole that much more difficult and resource-intensive.
    I’ve never met a Kentucky coal miner, but I heard a song by a favorite folk singer, Gillian Welch, that says, “I’m down in a hole, I’m down in a hole, down in a deep, dark hole.” Welcome to America/2008.
    And the government solutions take us deeper yet…

  • Squeezing Turnip Blood
    All the current news of financial distress has largely supplanted the news of the recent past of the dropping price of crude oil. Oil is still very expensive compared to a year or two ago, but has dropped well below the peak.
    The question that seems to be ignored by the media is: What is the current level of world petroleum output, irregardless of price?
    If oil consumption is fairly steady, albeit at somewhat lower prices than a couple of months ago, then the fundamental problem of Peak Oil is very much with us. Price is a signal, but as Jay Hanson has pointed out, price is often manipulated based on factors other than the obvious or the stated ones.
    Several years ago I commented on a “pain threshold” principle of retail gasoline pricing. The retailers, no doubt in colusion with their suppliers, raise the price of fuel in cycles to the point of customer complaint. Then they retreat temporarily to a newly established comfort zone of pricing, before starting the cycle over again, and again. Gas went from 50 cents per gallon to a buck and a quarter, then when the public complained, the price was lowered to 95 cents and people felt relieved. This pricing strategy can go on repeatedly and has. And it has occurred in the absence of actual scarcity.
    But when the Hubbert Peak is undeniably passed and scarcity increases due to worldwide demand, but the economy has fallen and customers are cash poor, how will gasoline be priced?
    My point is that the price signal may not be the only factor or the main factor. You cannot squeeze blood from a turnip. If customers cannot pay $10 / gallon for gasoline because they don’t have jobs, they will the price come down and the availability go down further? The petroleum producers have expenses and the national governments of those countries have obligations that their own citizens expect of them. If they cannot sell gas or crude oil for top dollar, they may sell for reduced amounts compared to what they could sell for in a strong economy, and yet the scarcity itself will exert its own pressure on the entire system.
    So, back to the original question — how much crude oil is being pumped from the ground worldwide now? What is our progress along the Hubbert Peak? I have to believe that is more significant to our future than the temporary cost of gasoline at the pump or crude oil in the market.
    And by the way, while crude oil has come down nearly 50% in the past two or three months, gasoline has not dropped nearly that much at my local filling station. I have not seen that discrepency noted in the local media…
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Capitalists are fond of quoting Adam Smith.But they never quote his most relevant phrase from “The Wealth of Nations”,”…two
    businessmen seldom get together without attemting to raise prices and conspire against the public”.

  • A good essay on the temporary prosperity brought by damming the world’s rivers can be read at:
    If you don’t like reading lengthy pieces of writing, scroll down to the last paragraph and you will get a nice summary.
    And, while I am thinking about it, recently I told a friend that if they ever make a biographic movie on John McCain, the actor in the lead role should be the guy who played Mini Me in the Austin Powers movie. Do Arizona constituents see the resemblance? :)
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Plunder
    At its highest level, capitalism is all about plunder, nothing more and nothing less. In the case of the United States of America, it started with plundering the resources of the virgin continent and its indigenous inhabitatnts. Once that was well underway and the plunder resulted in power to project military might outside of our borders, the plundering of the New World began in ernest, supplanting prior European plundering of the same region. Eventually the African, Asian, and Middle East resources became targets for plunder and the final stage is the cannibalistic plundering of the American middle class by the predatory elite.
    This is well-explained in a new book described at the following link:
    It is no big surprise that the financial media continue to miss the boat completely. I listened to Kai Risdal on National Public Radio yesterday gush about the “long-term” fix by Hank Paulson of the financial system. Now there (Paulson) is a fox guarding the henhouse if there ever was one!
    It truly is an Orwellian saga in which up is down, war is peace, and security is plunder. The “free market” is one where the controllers freely fleece the gullible while pretending to protect them.
    One begins to understand why in historic revolutions against the predatory (plundering) class the first intitiative of the revolutionaries has been to literally kill them (predators and their beneficiaries and heirs) all without compassion.
    When my small business failed, no government stepped in to bail me out, because free market forces would have been said to be working propertly. If I had had a multi-billion dollar business, I am sure it would have been different, and I would have been allowed to parachute away with personal financial security seven if the business eventually went kaput.
    Stan Moore
    Petaluma, CA

  • Memo to Stan:
    It’s only a “free market” for you and I.Big business always expects and gets socialism for themselves.

  • Hey people! Been a while since I last posted. I got sent to a very hot, dry place as little as ten miles from the Saudi border. Strangely enough my cell phone still works, but at nearly $4 a minute, calling home for ten minutes is a little daunting… On the bright side it’ll be nice and warm here on my birthday in a few days unlike in Minnesota!
    A few observations: Stan your Blood from a Turnip post is awesome! I dare point out another result if scarcity takes effect. If it hits ten dollars a gallon and people just can’t afford it, it’s not like the Oil companies can eat their oil, and furthermore with the entire economy taking a collosal dump, exactly who are we going to assume is going to run the pumps and refineries without the food to keep them kicking?
    The deal with the price at the pump is simply the stations trying to turn a profit. They took quite a lick when the prices nearly touched $4 wholesale and now they are looking to recoup their losses. Granted it’s at the expense of the consumer, but I’d hate to see how well we’d do if those stations closed. For most of the year they relied on selling everything in the store and only clearing a penny or two per gallon, sometimes they sold gas at a loss.
    Anyway, I’d probably better get back to the kicking of posteriors and the taking of surnames. At the very least you guys have to keep it all going until I can get back to the US.

  • Turboguy Welcome Back!!!
    Yes indeed we were all worried about you.I especially needed you to keep me in control.Older people revert to their childhood.
    It is very cheap calling from the USA to anywhere in the world,using prepaid
    calling plans available on the Internet.When I call my friends in Beijing the cost is 2 cents/minute.I don’t know if it works the other way,calling from overseas back to the USA.
    While you were away Charlene has inspired my muse and I’ve tried to reciprocate.I like to feel also that I had no small part in influencing Our Stan to produce the great work he is also doing.Undoubtedly we have helped Professor Guy to make this the world’s preeminent intellectual blog site.We are the van,
    leading western civilization to go out in a blaze of glory !!
    So it is inspirational having you back with us.

  • Hey Frank, I’m actually still in the Middle East. I won’t be coming home for a while.
    I got nailed on my back by one of these little bastard translucent scorpions they’ve got crawling around here. He was pretty small and had taken up residence in my shirt so he got the opportunity to nail me about ten times. I’m just lad it wasn’t a Camel Spider, those guys are ferocious and large!
    It gets up into the 120 range just about daily, and it seems that when you’re on tarmack it feels like you’re standing in jet wash or have the oven door open.
    My only real complaint about this place is that the latrine is no less than 200 yards from where I sleep.
    Anyway, I saw on the BBC that oil had jumped $25 in one day! Is that true? In between the virulent hate for all things American on that channel there was a snippet saying there was a major jump in price, but I was trying to tune out the vitriol and distill the real story.
    Anyway, I might get a tad more computer time here from here on out, so I can check back more.

  • Yah Turboguy,
    Please go to Guy’s latest,”Dodging the bullet”,9-21-08.I’ll talk to you there,so everyone can read us.