It’s not always easy to define what exactly is wrong with America, but what ever it is, it’s huge.
— Roel Ilargi Meijer, The Automatic Earth.com
Nobody knows, from sea to shining sea, why we’re having all this trouble with our Republic.
— Tom McGuane, Ninety-Two in the Shade
Despite its Valley Girl origins, the simple term clueless turns out to be the most accurate descriptor for America’s degenerate zeitgeist. Nobody gets it — the “it” being a rather hefty bundle of issues ranging from our energy bind to the official mismanagement of money, the manipulation of markets, the crimes in banking, the blundering foreign misadventures, the revolving door corruption in governance, the abandonment of the rule-of-law, the ominous wind-down of the Happy Motoring fiasco and the related tragedy of obsolete suburbia, the contemptuous disregard for the futures of young people, the immersive Kardashian celebrity twerking sleaze, the downward spiral of the floundering classes into pizza and Pepsi induced obesity, methedrine psychosis, and tattooed savagery, and the thick patina of public relations dishonesty that coats all of it like some toxic bacterial overgrowth. The dwindling life of our nation, where anything goes and nothing matters.
It’s not just the individual cluelessness of ordinary people leading lives too frantic for a moment’s reflection about anything, but the appalling institutional cluelessness of enterprises where you’d think combined intellects might tend toward a more faithful view of reality. But these days all we get is a low-order of wishful and clownish group-think, such as this item from today’s New York Times discussing a proposed reversal of Gazprom pipelines along the Ukraine / Slovakian frontier as the solution to the Kiev government’s fuel problem:
Nearly all the gas Washington and Brussels would like to get moving into Ukraine from Europe originally came from Russia, which pumps gas westward across Ukraine, into Slovakia and then on to customers in Germany and elsewhere. Once the gas is sold, however, Gazprom ceases to be its owner and loses its power to set the terms of its sale.
Get that? To avoid depending on Russian gas, they’re going to buy Russian gas from sources other than Russia. What New York Times editor can read this story without spraying her video display with coffee? What genius in John Kerry’s “Haircut-in-Search-of-a-Brain” State Department dreamed up this dodge? Who would think that you could improve a Chinese fire drill by tacking on a Polish blanket trick (i.e. trying to make your blanket longer by cutting a foot from the top and sewing it onto the bottom).
The only conclusion the casual observer can come to is, to put it mildly, these institutions have gone completely meshugga. Since I follow the behavior of these organizations, I know that this is not an isolated example. For the State Department, the entire gambit in Ukraine has been a chain of obvious bungles and miscalculations, starting with our sponsored overthrow of the original elected Kiev government, and the absurd presumption that Russia had no legitimate interest in that region’s stability to the strategy of shoot-yourself-in-the-foot financial sanctions. The New York Times (once America’s “Newspaper of Record”), is now a completely unreliable conduit for un-parsed White House backgrounder propaganda and raw State Department spin, with an overlay of editorial PMS brain fog.
Another humdinger on a somewhat different issue caught my attention the other day in the formerly eminent, now degenerate journal Foreign Affairs (May / June 2014): The United States of Gas, by Robert Hefner III . This idiotic article in the current issue hits on all the usual wishful thinking delusions du jour concerning this country’s energy prospects, namely: due to fracking in shale deposits we’ve entered an energy-and-manufacturing renaissance, we’re soon-to-be the premier energy exporter to the world, and US “consumers” (i.e. citizens) can be assured of driving to WalMart forever — in other words, all economic problems solved. These idiots (editors and fact-checkers included) must get all their information straight out of the Cambridge Energy Research Associates (CERA) PR handouts. CERA, of course, is the official public relations shop of the oil and gas industry.
It’s one thing that this article is patently misleading. What’s worse is the complete absence of any understanding of the fundamental dynamic between the high cost of unconventional oil and gas and its effect on capital formation. In other words, the capital investment for continued future drilling will simply not exist. What a surprise that will be to the people who run this land.
There comes a point in the destiny of a failing nation when official lying is no longer distinct from official stupidity. We’ve crossed that boundary in the USA. It pays to remember that societies get what they deserve, not what they expect.
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