Looking every inch the Assistant Manager of a J.C. Penny, Rick Perry of Texas stepped on-board the touring evangelical freak show that the Republican pre-primary parade has turned into. I like to think of him as George W. Bush without all the encumbering intellect. I give it three months before media snoops catch him in bed with Michele Bachmann. The two of them will claim it was all right because Jesus was there as chaperone and anyway, "...alls we did was watch the Vikings-Cowboy game...."
Oh these sons and daughters of the high corn! Make no mistake (to borrow a favorite war cry from the presidential cheat sheet), both of these heartland bozos are dumb enough to lead America straight into the graveyard of failed states. Imagine a summit between Rick Perry and whoever succeeds Hu Jintao - the incredulous side-glances of the Chinese leader and his interpreter when Mr. Perry presents the official gift from our nation: a miniature Bible made by the inmates at Stringfellow State Prison and "prayed over by qualified preachers twenty-four hours a day!" Or how about Michele Bachmann and Vlad Putin. I'd sooner watch a gerbil in a terrarium with a King Cobra.
Meanwhile, the other day poor Mitt Romney tried to explain to a crowd of Iowa hot-heads that "corporations are people!" Wasn't that just the right thing to say to folks whose employment opportunities have dwindled down to eviscerating chickens on an assembly line or humping boxes on the WalMart loading dock for $8 an hour. He was heckled mercilessly. I don't see how a candidate recovers from that kind of caught-on-camera mockery - but then again, in a culture that has no shame, just about anything goes.
One thing I'd really like to know about the Republican party, though: if they're so all-fired up about fiscal rectitude and the honest disposition of money, and stuff like that, then how come not a single one of these dissembling ninnies has suggested the investigation and prosecution of the entire Wall Street matrix of swindling grifters - including the officials who rotate between the too-big-to-fail banks and the regulatory agencies like the SEC and the CFTC and all the other utterly failed official watchdogs who stood by whistling Dixie while the future of this country was blatantly sold down the river?
Of course, nobody on the Democratic side asks anything similar of President Obama as he hops from fundraiser to fundraiser. I'd like to know why the fuck the president is even out campaigning more than a year before the election. And hasn't the mainstream news media noticed that there's something a little peculiar about a cycle of perpetual election with no governing in between? I suppose everything is show business now, though I don't expect this aberrant and very dangerous behavior to persist, because virtually all the major operations of the supposedly civilized, "developed" world are veering into a state of obvious failure.
The global financial system is wobbling on its pyramid-tip of debt. Europe is trapped. The members of the currency union can't make good on what they owe and neither can they surrender their independence to some jerry-rigged extra-national authority. At stake is the European banking system and the post-World War Two amity that allowed the region to become the lovely tourist theme park we lately know it as. They are running out of tricks for pretending that debts can revolve forever, and as this occurs the fear rises that the whole lovely thing will bust apart in mob violence, revolution, and maybe even armed conflict between people who don't hold their forks the same way. England is not even in the Euro currency club but five decades of rather feckless immigration policy have resolved into something that looks an awful lot like race war. God knows what the French are thinking, with their own massive immigrant slum population ringing Paris.
Anyway, whatever happens around Europe in the months to come, trouble with its banks is sure to blow back into the American ones, which are hopelessly entangled in Europe's obligations, not to mention skeins of supposed "insurance" swaps contracts primed for ignition at the slightest flap of a black swan's wing that could propel the likes of Lloyd Blankfein's cappuccino machine from an upper floor at 200 West Street, NYC, through the roof, clear to planet Uranus. At least we'd have a space program again.
Surely a lot of European and American officials just want to escape to the seashore for the last two weeks of this punishing month and soak their heads in the surf - perhaps a few will decide to not come back up for air. President Obama will enjoy the briny vapors out on Martha's Vineyard, and maybe even splash around in the wimpy waves there. I'll enjoy the thought of him tying into a clam roll. And now to check how the markets are doing this opening day of the week....