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"shut down legalized gambling all over the USA, send it back to the margins...to the basement boiler rooms, to the public bathrooms, to wherever it will be identified as indecent, shameful, and not healthy."

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February 08, 2010 – Comments (26)

We're Weimar

By James Howard Kunstler
on February 8, 2010 6:35 AM 
     Future historians who try to chart the unraveling of the USA's political tapestry might point to two events of the past week.  The obvious first one was the Tea Party convention at Nashville. It was held not accidentally at the ridiculous Opryland Hotel and resort in the city's outer suburban asteroid belt, right next to the circumferential freeway, and next door to the defunct (1997) Opryland USA theme park, an attraction based on the cute idea that Tennessee rubes were too dumb to spell the word opera -- so the symbolism was perfect.

     Behind the incoherent cargo of conflicting complaints that makes up Tea Party doctrine -- like "keeping the government's hands off our medicare!" -- stands the more basic dissolution of the Sunbelt's miracle economy, along with the pain and bewilderment of the southern peckerwood political nexus that rose out of the dust after World War Two to build the suburban nirvana of universal air-conditioning, happy motoring, Jesus tub-thumping, over-eating, and Friday night football that defined Sunbelt culture. They sense now that history is about to thrust them back into the okra patch, with the hookworms and the chiggers, as the economy whirls down the drain, and the car dealerships close up, and the idle production homebuilders succumb to methedrine addiction, and the price of Reba McEntire tickets exceeds their dwindling resources, and they are none too happy about any of that.  

  Of course this Sunbelt political culture has tentacles and outposts all over the USA, wherever a few generations of laboring folk enjoyed debt-fueled parabolic rises in living standards during the cheap oil decades, and now find themselves in foreclosure hell, indentured to the very WalMarts that they welcomed with open arms (and allowed to destroy their local businesses) -- and, of course, it's yet another paradox that these are the same folk who will still defend the big box masters to their deaths. The America they stand for is a weird contradictory mish-mash of Confederate nostalgia, hyper-individualism that really owes allegiance to nothing, racial enmity, religious paranoia, and potemkin patriotism -- especially involving anything in the constitution that allows them to wriggle out of obligations to the public interest at the same time that they get to push other groups of people around.   

  The Tea Party people are the corn-pone Nazis I have been warning you about. They are gathering strength in numbers as President Obama and congress fritter away their remaining legitimacy in a manner of governance that more and more resembles an endless Chinese Fire Drill. The delusional craziness of the Tea Partyists exists in direct proportion to the wimpy deceit of the government, especially in matters of money and statistics reporting. Our political leaders are resorting to wholesale deceit because the truth of our situation -- comprehensive bankruptcy -- is too painful to dwell on and for the most part they are too chicken too state it.  

  This brings me to the second telling event of last week when President Obama said, kind of off-hand, apropos of the US economic situation, "You don't blow a bunch of cash on Vegas when you're trying to save for college. You prioritize. You make tough choices."  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (of Nevada) was all over Mr. Obama like a cheap suit for that. I'm sorry that the President didn't slam back the craven Mr. Reid and pull his upper lip over the top of his head. Fook Las Vegas and fook Nevada, and fook all the casino operators in every pulsating gambling venue around this country. The last thing we need is to continue believing that it is possible to get something for nothing, or an industry based on that false principle. I'd go a lot further and shut down legalized gambling all over the USA, send it back to the margins, to the alleys, to the berm between the WalMart and the Target Store, to the basement boiler rooms, to the public bathrooms, to wherever it will be identified as indecent, shameful, and not healthy.     

  Notice, by the way, that the Tea Party people have never made an issue about the disgusting gambling "industry" -- not even the Jesus thumpers among them, for all their pretense about decency and propriety. I suppose this is precisely because a cardinal article of Tea Party faith is that it should be possible to get something for nothing. You should be entitled to collect social security even while you inveigh against the intrusion of big government into your life and the horrible prospect that it will get its mitts on your Medicare! And when Jeezus comes to take you home, that place will be just like Opryland USA was in its heyday, with Dolly Parton in every suite and all the pulled pork sandwiches under heaven's dome....   

   As the contest heats up this year between Tea Partydom and the Weimar-like remnant of the party in power expect to see a political vortex form that will suck the little remaining coherence out of American life. Personally, I'd like to see Mr. Obama have a little fun with his adversaries, even if it seals his fate as a one-term president.  I'd like to see him start by using the just-proposed national forum on health care reform as a rope-a-dope moment to expose opponents to reform as the bought-and-sold errand boys they are.    X  In the meantime, it appears that nothing will stop the epochal forces underway in global finance from spinning out of control. Illusions are getting hammered hard now and nations are lining up for the long trip home out of modernity to something that will look more like the seventeenth century, if they're lucky.

 

26 Comments – Post Your Own

#1) On February 08, 2010 at 9:18 PM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

I live in Sunbelt , I completely sympathize. The whole country is full of people who truly believe in free cheeze( it is a russian saying - free cheeze is only to be found in a mouse trap), or in geting something for nothing. It is actually not an issue confined to the Sunbelt. Us population continues voting people who promise more stuff to them and then they don't want to pay for it and act surprised that the country is running deficit. The thing is , with very few exceptions, any government perk comes with huge overhead so if you want something get it on your own  and stop wasting money doing it through the government.

An intresting pehonmenon of the Sunblet culture is their fervent love of Bible and guns, and they see no conflict there.

 

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#2) On February 08, 2010 at 10:20 PM, kirkydu (93.96) wrote:

I was right there with ya 'til ya threatened my poker rooms.  Shirley you know poker is a game of skill, so maybe you'd allow my poker rooms to stay open.  Fook slots and all of the games against the house, we all know those are rigged, so why play 'em anyway.  If I want that sort of game, I'll throw darts at the WSJ.  Anyway, keep yer paws off my poker rooms, it's where I make me beer money.

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#3) On February 08, 2010 at 10:37 PM, Starfirenv (< 20) wrote:

Who's Shirley? Surely reminds me of the movie Airplane.

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#4) On February 09, 2010 at 12:34 AM, whereaminow (39.10) wrote:

Online poker is already illegal, but thankfully the Law is unenforceable.  So feel free to keep at it.  There's millions of us playing online poker (and sports gambling.)  There is nothing the do-gooders can do about it.

As for the Tea Party, I was initially ecstatic about it, but my enthusiasm is waning.  The original Tea Party was a coalition from the Campaign for Liberty, a Libertarian political action group started by Ron Paul.  They were then joined, and later usurped, by NeoCons and Christian Conservatives.  These are the Chicken Hawks and Nationalist Socialists I most despise.

Now we find ourselves back in the old Fake Left/Right Paradigm, where we are told the Tea Party and the Obama presidency mark the two ends of the political spectrum.  In truth, they are in a very narrow band on the spectrum, while the majority of political ideas are blocked from public view.

It's too bad.  The Tea Party had a great start.  Time to move on.

David in Qatar

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#5) On February 09, 2010 at 12:45 AM, motleyanimal (93.40) wrote:

Kunstler would have us all living in camps and working on collective farms, presumably while "elite" Socialists like himself take on the responsibility of running the planet.

This nutcase has been preaching this nonsense for years and somehow has decided that a "Soylent Green" society is the best future for the world. So you think the Tea Party is nothing but corn-pone Nazis? Look in your mirror, Herr Kunstler, if you want to see the face of a fascist.

Rail on against gambling or any other form of risk-taking, it is my money and I will spend it all on a Las Vegas hotel room full of prostitutes and build a pyramid in the Mohave Desert for my final resting place before I will let you and your kind have any of it.

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#6) On February 09, 2010 at 12:49 AM, whereaminow (39.10) wrote:

Ron Paul on the current Tea Party movement. Interesting points made here.

David in .....

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#7) On February 09, 2010 at 8:44 AM, ChrisGraley (30.19) wrote:

That's a whole lot of hate for one article.

Am I wrong, or did I just hear a liberal say that you can't get something for nothing?

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#8) On February 09, 2010 at 8:55 AM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

#7 - lol, I am a liberal and I've been sayign that forever. May be your definition of liberal in the US is different, but a liberal is somebody who stands for liberty, equality ( not equality of being at the lowest denominator but equality of chances) and being broadminded. What is so bad about it?

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#9) On February 09, 2010 at 9:40 AM, ralphmachio (23.81) wrote:

MotleyAnimal- Great response.

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#10) On February 09, 2010 at 10:10 AM, Turfscape (42.16) wrote:

motleyanimal wrote:
"it is my money and I will spend it all on a Las Vegas hotel room full of prostitutes"

Not if you're intending to stay within the confines of the law. Prostitution isn't allowed in Clark County. Now, if you wanted, you could go to London, or Hamburg, or Amsterdam, or any one of many Socialist countries if you want the freedom to solicit prostitutes, or gamble, or maybe take drugs...you know, those awful horrid Socialist countries that we hate because of how they restrict everyone's freedoms...not like here in the good ol' USA, where you're free to do what you want, when you want...oh, wait...nevermind.

But keep on voting for them conservatives! They sure love to expand our freedoms!

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#11) On February 09, 2010 at 10:10 AM, ETFsRule (99.94) wrote:

"Online poker is already illegal..."

Incorrect. Online poker is not illegal in the US.

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#12) On February 09, 2010 at 11:35 AM, vtBrunson (51.20) wrote:

Whats the difference between gambling and playing the stock market from a moral standpoint? Who is the true beneficiary when we trade stocks, the businesses, or wall street ("the house")

Hmm I guess Kunstler already saved us the effort of having incorporated Goodwin's Law.

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#13) On February 09, 2010 at 1:43 PM, RonChapmanJr (96.91) wrote:

I hadn't read much of Kunstler's stuff before this, but now I'll be sure to avoid it going forward.  This guy is an idiot.

"An intresting pehonmenon of the Sunblet culture is their fervent love of Bible and guns, and they see no conflict there."

Maybe because their is no inherent conflict there.

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#14) On February 09, 2010 at 1:56 PM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

#13 - thank you for confirming my point. People don't see a conflict there which is quite amazing since guns are tools of violence and Jesus taught to offer another cheek. But after more than 10 years in the US I understand that some things just are and cannot be explained rationally.

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#15) On February 09, 2010 at 2:15 PM, vtBrunson (51.20) wrote:

#14 thats because guns are only used to commit acts of violence against other humans...not for target practice, hunting, or just pain personal enjoyment.  How many owners of guns use them for "tools of violence"?

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#16) On February 09, 2010 at 2:28 PM, Turfscape (42.16) wrote:

russiangambit wrote:
"People don't see a conflict there which is quite amazing since guns are tools of violence and Jesus taught to offer another cheek."

The firearm is not inherently violent anymore than a stick or a stone. It is not the firearm that Jesus would preach against. It is the violence itself. Also, keep in mind, Jesus wasn't a vegetarian according to Christian documentation. There is nothing more inherently wrong with a rifle than there is with a fishing pole and hooks, as they pertain to Christian philosophy and beliefs.

Quite a leap in logic to go from "turn the other cheek" to 'no firearms for anyone ever'. Hardly what I'd consider rational.

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#17) On February 09, 2010 at 3:17 PM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

#15, 16 - yes, I know all these arguments. Did I mention I live in Texas? There are entirely too many locos with guns around here.

> The firearm is not inherently violent anymore than a stick or a stone. It is not the firearm that Jesus would preach against. It is the violence itself.

Right, just taking it a step further, a nuclear bomb is also not a tool of violence, it is a detterent just like a gun. Then why is everybody so against nuclear weapons in case of Iran?

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#18) On February 09, 2010 at 3:31 PM, Turfscape (42.16) wrote:

russiangambit wrote:
"Right, just taking it a step further, a nuclear bomb is also not a tool of violence, it is a detterent just like a gun. Then why is everybody so against nuclear weapons in case of Iran?"

At no point did I declare a gun a deterrent. You've again made a leap in logic. A firearm is not inherently violent, as it's conception does not begin and end with the act of violence against people and/or property.

The conception of a nuclear armament does begin and end with the act of violence against people and/or property. As does non-nuclear armaments, such as conventional bombs, surface to air missiles, IEDs and many, many more.

I'm opposed to any and all nations having nuclear weapons. I am not opposed to nations having nuclear power. See the difference? Nuclear weapons are inherently WEAPONS. Nuclear technology is not inherently a weapon.

Firearms are not the antithesis of christianity, as they have many non-violent uses: hunting, sport, protection from natural predators.

You need to dial down the generalizations and rhetoric. You've essentially allowed your entire point to be subverted because of a technicality in your language.

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#19) On February 09, 2010 at 4:13 PM, skimaskway (58.50) wrote:

Good stuff...will follow further to balance out a lot of the tea party self rightousness that permeates my other online reading sources.

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#20) On February 09, 2010 at 4:16 PM, russiangambit (29.45) wrote:

#18 - see, that is what I am talking about. You get all emotional about guns. BTW, "protection from natural predators " is a good one . Peace.

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#21) On February 09, 2010 at 4:39 PM, Turfscape (42.16) wrote:

russiangambit wrote:
"see, that is what I am talking about. You get all emotional about guns."

???

There is no emotion in my response. I've pointed out the leaps in logic you take to make your point (which is a highly emotionally charged point). You've chosen to ignore rational debate, yet again. So, all that can be done is to live and let live.

"BTW, "protection from natural predators " is a good one"

And a valid one, as firearms were not invented in the day and age of modern cities.

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#22) On February 09, 2010 at 5:05 PM, stan8331 (97.68) wrote:

I totally agree that the idea of getting something for nothing deeply pervades our culture, to our immense detriment.  However, I couldn't disagree more about the proposed solution of prohibition.

The thing that folks on the far left and far right will never be able to grasp is that they're the same as their enemy.  They differ in the particulars, but the core desire in both cases is to control the lives of others based on their own vehemently held beliefs. 

The left wing nuts want our guns and the right wing nuts want our porn - neither of them are capable of minding their own business.  They might even join forces to take our casinos.

I'm not necessarily claiming any of those as good things - merely as things that should be available to a free people.

Ordinarily the nuts are not too dangerous because few people take them seriously.  However, in times of turmoil and strife, they sometimes do succeed in using fear to manipulate a whole society.  We underestimate their danger at great peril.

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#23) On February 09, 2010 at 5:16 PM, USNHR (55.74) wrote:

Russiangambit,

I think in order to understand the conservitive viewpoint on guns, take into considertaion the following.

 A house is on fire with a group of people gathered around watching it burn. A scream is heard from inside the house. A man steps out of the crowd and runs into the house.

 The question now is: Did the man do the right thing?

What if the man is deaf? Does that change your opinion on if he did the right thing. If he is deaf he didn't hear the scream.

What if the man is brooding on his girlfriend that just broke up with him, the 1.2 million he lost in in the stock market, and all his debtors calling him for the millions of dollars he owes? Did the man do the right thing?

The man running into the house is a morally neutral action. It is the intent of the man that determines whether the action is good or bad. If he ran into the house to save the person that screams, it is a morally good action. If he ran into the house to commit suicide, then it is morally bad action. (Assuming that you agree to the principle that all life is inherently valuable, which I assume you do since you are arguing against violence).

Now back to guns, a gun is a morally neutral object. It can be used for good, such as me and my son going out together to hunt Elk. We spend quality time together as well as providing meat for the family for the next year. Heck, would America be what it is today if European settlers did not have guns? The American Revolution would have turned out a lot different...

The problem is not the gun, the problem is the intent of the person who has the gun.

The bible does not preach against guns, it preaches against harboring hate and revenge in your heart. Turn the other cheek is not about pacifisim, it is about forgiving.

There is such a thing as a just war. And their are good reasons for the average citizen to own, collect, and use guns. To take away a tool because it can be used wrongly is one of the worst kinds of infringement on liberty. It is the parent saying to the child that you are not big enough to make this decision for yourself, so I have to make it for you. If you treat adults like children, you end up with children.

Guns don't kill people, people kill people.

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#24) On February 09, 2010 at 5:37 PM, rosemanjhk (57.39) wrote:

This is just wonderful!  I am in awe of your wisdom!

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#25) On February 09, 2010 at 6:00 PM, caltex1nomad (< 20) wrote:

I prefer garrotes and knives over guns.

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#26) On February 09, 2010 at 7:01 PM, ChrisGraley (30.19) wrote:

#12) On February 09, 2010 at 11:35 AM, vtBrunson (45.66) wrote:

Whats the difference between gambling and playing the stock market from a moral standpoint? 

There are less people cheating in the casinos. 

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