AuthorTopic: Going Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A.  (Read 1810 times)

Offline K-Dog

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Re: Going Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A. more on 'KAYFABE'
« Reply #30 on: April 16, 2020, 09:04:11 AM »
Donald Trump names WWE’s Vince McMahon as adviser to restart US economy

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/04/15/donald-trump-wwe-vince-mcmahon-adviser-economy-12558398/?ito=cbshare

I must confess I knew nothing about "Kayfabe" before you posted this thread. It puts a lot of the more inscrutable Trump moves more intelligible, like the "threat" to adjourn Congress. Trump's authority only exists of both Houses cannot agree on a date of adjournment. They have: Jan. 3, 2021. Another empty threat. But it sure got the subject changed, didn't it?

I'll confess I don't believe in an adrenochrome conspiracy but I would not mind it at all if people started talking about an adrenochrome conspiracy involving Trump, which if it does exist, certainly must involve Vince McMahon who is also richer than god.  Another reason why he should help get the dry cleaner business downtown going again I'll guess.

I have NOT admitted to not believing that Trump and his kind are space alien lizard people.
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Online Eddie

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Re: Going Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A. more on 'KAYFABE'
« Reply #31 on: April 16, 2020, 09:11:42 AM »
Donald Trump names WWE’s Vince McMahon as adviser to restart US economy

Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/04/15/donald-trump-wwe-vince-mcmahon-adviser-economy-12558398/?ito=cbshare

I must confess I knew nothing about "Kayfabe" before you posted this thread. It puts a lot of the more inscrutable Trump moves more intelligible, like the "threat" to adjourn Congress. Trump's authority only exists of both Houses cannot agree on a date of adjournment. They have: Jan. 3, 2021. Another empty threat. But it sure got the subject changed, didn't it?

I'll confess I don't believe in an adrenochrome conspiracy but I would not mind it at all if people started talking about an adrenochrome conspiracy involving Trump, which if it does exist, certainly must involve Vince McMahon who is also richer than god.  Another reason why he should help get the dry cleaner business downtown going again I'll guess.

I have NOT admitted to not believing that Trump and his kind are space alien lizard people.

I think the lizard thesis is just a misunderstanding....On Alpha Centauri it started as a  rumor.......because in the scientific community there....they just use "lizard" as a euphemism for humans in general, since we mostly just use our reptile brains, and not much else.
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Offline Surly1

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Feculent coward emerges from bunker, deploys military to use tear gas, flash grenades to clear space for photo op, and threatens military action against states.



Trump on Monday berated the nation’s governors during a conference call, describing them as “weak” in the face of growing racial unrest and urging them to take an aggressive stand against unruly protests.

Trump told governors that if they don’t take back the streets and use force to confront protesters they would look like “fools,” alarming several governors on the call as they communicated privately.

“You have to dominate. If you don’t dominate, you’re wasting your time,” he said. “They’re going to run over you. You’re going to look like a bunch of jerks.”

The Washington Post obtained a recording of the call.

The latest on protests across the country

Trump followed up on the forceful rhetoric to the governors in a Rose Garden announcement later Monday evening, warning that he will dispatch the U.S. military to end the unrest in cities across the country if mayors and governors don’t escalate their law enforcement presence, including the National Guard.

“We are ending the riots and lawlessness that has spread throughout our country,” Trump said as the sounds of flash bangs echoed in the Rose Garden. “We will end it now.”

The announcement, as well as the conversation with governors, followed nights of unrest and mass protests in cities across the country over the death of another black man in police custody, George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25. Many of the protests have featured violent clashes with police, as well as the destruction of private property and looting.

Trump has faced criticism from liberals and conservatives for remaining mostly silent on the issue beyond his Twitter account, where he has at times sent out messages that were more inflammatory than calming during the unrest.

The president struck a belligerent tone during the call, frequently urging governors to get tougher and use the National Guard if protesters begin to damage property or loot stores.

Trump told the governors that “you have to use the military” and “we have a wonderful military.” He also mused about the Occupy Wall Street movement, calling it a “disgrace” that was ended by governors and mayors being tough.

The president said that people arrested at the protests should serve 10-year prison sentences.

“But you’ve got to arrest people, you have to try people, you have to put them in jail for 10 years, then you’ll never see this stuff again,” he said. “And you have to let them know that.”

At the call’s outset, Trump noted that Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was also present and that the president had “just put him in charge” of managing the unrest in dozens of cities.

At a briefing later in the day, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany declined to offer details on Milley’s role or say why a top military leader would be in charge of overseeing domestic law enforcement issues.

“I’m not going to get ahead of any actions that will be announced,” she said.

On the call, Defense Secretary Mark T. Esper explained to governors that about 70,000 National Guard troops had been activated in 29 states but that most of the states using them had fewer than 200 of them deployed. Esper underscored the president’s words, saying “we need to dominate the battle space.”

“I think the sooner that you … dominate the battle space, the quicker this dissipates and we can get back to the right normal,” Esper told governors.

Trump noted that he would also “activate” Attorney General William P. Barr, who on Monday directed the FBI to send riot teams to Miami and Washington, according to a senior Justice Department official. On Sunday night, Barr sent the FBI’s elite Hostage Rescue Team to assist local police.

The call with governors grew contentious at times.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) challenged Trump about his rhetoric after the president, early in the call, derided the governors, telling them that “most of you are weak.” The president replied that he does not like Pritzker’s rhetoric, either, and that Pritzker mishandled his state’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

“I am extraordinarily concerned about the rhetoric that has been used by you,” Pritzker told Trump. “We have to call for calm, we have to have police reform called for … The rhetoric coming out of the White House is making it worse.”

Trump was quick to defend his remarks, noting that he spoke about Floyd’s death “at our great rocket launch” Saturday in Florida even before he commended the successful liftoff of the SpaceX rocket into space, the event that brought him to Cape Canaveral, Fla.

“We just sent out a billion-dollar rocket, and before I spoke about the rocket at a major speech after the rocket launch I spoke as to what happened with respect to Mr. Floyd,” Trump said. “I thought it was a disgrace. I thought what happened was a disgrace. I spoke about it probably as long as I did about the rocket itself.”

The call and Trump’s handling of the nationwide unrest triggered another battle on Monday with Democratic governors, who have been a frequent target of the president’s during the coronavirus pandemic. Some Democratic governors publicly criticized Trump.

“The president repeatedly and viciously attacked governors, who are doing everything they can to keep the peace while fighting a once-in-a-generation global pandemic,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) said in a statement following the call. “The president’s dangerous comments should be gravely concerning to all Americans, because they send a clear signal that this administration is determined to sow the seeds of hatred and division, which I fear will only lead to more violence and destruction. We must reject this way of thinking.”

But other governors defended Trump and his administration’s call to more aggressively deploy the National Guard. South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster (R) said on the call that National Guard troops were present at protests in Charleston and that “it worked like a charm.”

“They had five Humvees rolling around the city of Charleston, very peaceful,” McMaster said. “So strength works. You have to dominate, as you said. I think now is really the time to get serious prosecuting these people, finding out where their organizations are, who is paying the money.”

Democratic Gov. Janet Mills of Maine, where Trump is slated to visit later this week, also raised concerns about security surrounding the president’s trip. Trump quipped later in the call that it seemed the governor was trying to talk him out of visiting Maine “and now she probably talked me into it.”

“She just doesn't understand me very well. But that’s okay,” Trump said of Mills.

Meanwhile, Trump did have warm words for some Democrats on the call, praising Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz (D) for his use of the National Guard over the past couple of nights.

When someone made a comment about the Minnesota response looking like an occupying force, Trump said that after the recent violence, “people wouldn’t have minded an occupying force.”

He added that the first phase of the response in Minneapolis was “weak and pathetic.” The National Guard phase was “domination … It couldn’t be any better. It was a beautiful thing to watch.”

McEnany pushed back against criticism that Trump should deliver an address to the nation to try to calm the unrest, noting he addressed Floyd’s killing during remarks Saturday in Florida, where he was on hand to witness the launch of U.S. astronauts into space.

Trump made the same argument during the call.

“I believe what happened was a disgrace,” he said. “But I spoke about it probably as long as I did about the rocket itself.”

The president’s combative tone in the call with governors — as well as his tweets over the weekend — marked a stark contrast with other senior Republicans, even though they, like Trump, also condemned the sometimes violent and destructive aspect of the demonstrations.

“One nation cannot deafen itself to the anger, pain or frustration of black Americans,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a floor speech Monday afternoon. “Our nation needs to hear this. Yet over the last several days, citizens have watched with horror as cities across America have convulsed with looting, riots and destruction.”

McConnell added: “You do not advance peace by committing assault. You do not advance justice by inflicting injustice upon your neighbors.”

Trump struck a more measured tone during remarks Saturday in Cape Canaveral — when he said “healing, not hatred, justice, not chaos, are the mission at hand” — a tone that also stood in contrast to many of his tweets, which were more inflammatory.

“I was inside, watched every move, and couldn’t have felt more safe,” the president tweeted Saturday morning about protests outside the White House on Friday night. “They let the ‘protesters’ scream & rant as much as they wanted, but whenever someone got too frisky or out of line, they would quickly come down on them, hard — didn’t know what hit them … Nobody came close to breaching the fence. If they had they would have been greeted with the most vicious dogs, and most ominous weapons, I have ever seen.”

As cities burned, Trump stayed silent — other than tweeting fuel on the fire

The protests grew so heated Friday night outside the White House that the Secret Service rushed the president to an underground bunker previously used during terrorist attacks, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of security for the president.

Early last month, Trump rooted on people protesting public health restrictions put in place by governors in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

He expressed support on May 1 for armed protesters who had stormed the Michigan Capitol, demanding the state lift coronavirus restrictions. Trump tweeted Friday that “these are very good people, but they are angry. They want their lives back again, safely!”

Matt Zapotosky and Felicia Sonmez contributed to this report.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Offline Surly1

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Barr On Gassing Protesters: 'Pepper Spray Is Not A Chemical Irritant'
« Reply #33 on: June 08, 2020, 03:56:24 AM »
I guess it's happy gas.

Barr On Gassing Protesters: 'Pepper Spray Is Not A Chemical Irritant'
Attorney General William Barr on Sunday insisted that federal forces did not technically use "tear gas" on protesters outside the White House because pepper spray is not a "chemical irritant."


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/uBURKkKGuyw" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/uBURKkKGuyw</a>

Attorney General William Barr on Sunday insisted that federal forces did not technically use "tear gas" on protesters outside the White House because pepper spray is not a "chemical irritant."

In an interview on CBS, Barr said that it was a coincidence that the area around the White House was forcefully cleared of protesters minutes before President Donald Trump walked outside the grounds for a photo op last week.

"Three of my colleagues were there," CBS host Margaret Brennan explained to Barr. "They did not see projectiles being thrown."

"I was there," Barr replied. "They were thrown. I saw them thrown."

"And you believe that what the Park Police did using tear gas and projectiles was appropriate?" Brennan pressed.

"When they met resistance, yes," Barr said. "They announced three times. They didn't move. By the way, there was no tear gas used. The tear gas was used Sunday when they had to clear 8th Street to allow the fire department to come in to save St. John's Church. That's when tear gas was used."

"There were chemical irritants used by the Park Police [on Monday]," Brennan pointed out.

"No, there were no chemical irritants," Barr shot back. "Pepper spray is not a chemical irritant. It's not chemical."

However, many experts disagree with Barr.

"A pepper ball is a projectile that contains chemicals, like pepper spray, that would irritate the eyes and lungs. Such a combination with smoke canisters would create clouds of a chemical irritant that would cause tearing," USA Today noted in a report last week. "Both are chemical irritants that can causing tearing, coughing and sometimes vomiting. Those symptoms were reported from protesters who were cleared from the park on Monday."

[Ed.Note: Everything Barr said was a lie. It was not announced 3 times, the protesters were peaceful, and they gassed priests.]

UPDATE: From PepperBall's website:


"Most effective chemical irritant"
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Offline Surly1

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Trump Hates Losers, So Why Is He Refighting the Civil War—on the Losing Side?


Trump, being Trump, has tried to tweet his way through interlocking crises. It has not worked.Photograph by Saul Loeb / Getty

By Susan B. Glasser

June 12, 2020

It was a small moment in a week of craziness, but there is nothing like the rage of Donald Trump when a media outlet publishes a poll proclaiming him an almost-certain loser. There is, after all, no bigger insult in his vocabulary. The “fake news” are “sick losers,” Trump said the other day. Mitt Romney is a “LOSER.” The protesters calling for racial justice in the streets are “lowlifes and losers.” Not him. When CNN released a national survey showing Trump trailing Joe Biden in the general election, by a hard-to-surmount fourteen points, Trump ordered his campaign to respond. It did, on Wednesday, with almost comical bluster: a letter in which the campaign’s lawyers demanded that CNN not only retract the poll but also apologize for running it. This is petty-tyrant stuff. In response, CNN’s general counsel, David Vigilante, mocked the President. “To my knowledge, this is the first time in its forty-year history that CNN had been threatened with legal action because an American politician or campaign did not like CNN’s polling results,” Vigilante wrote. (What a name for a lawyer guarding the First Amendment in these times.) “To the extent we have received legal threats from political leaders in the past, they have typically come from countries like Venezuela or other regimes where there is little or no respect for a free and independent media.”

Trump cannot change the numbers by sending in his lawyers, of course. The CNN poll merely found what the other national surveys have documented in recent weeks: a persistent decline in the President’s standing as crises proliferate and his leadership is called further into question. A Gallup Poll, released on Wednesday, found that Trump’s approval rating had plunged ten points in a single month. The veteran election analyst Charlie Cook told me that he could not remember a bigger fall. “It just put an exclamation point on what we were seeing elsewhere: he’s dropping,” Cook said. The combined impact of Trump’s botched handling of the coronavirus pandemic, the concurrent economic crisis, and now his divisive, inflammatory response to national protests over police brutality and racial injustice have sent the President tumbling back to his “bedrock,” as Cook put it: a political base of somewhere between thirty-five and forty per cent of Americans who seem willing to back Trump no matter what. If the President stays on this course, he will lose.

The polls are hardly the week’s only unpleasant reality for the President. Several striking comments by his advisers in recent days portray a country, not just a political campaign, in big trouble. On Tuesday, Anthony Fauci, the government’s top infectious-disease specialist—for Trump and for all Presidents going back to Ronald Reagan—warned that the coronavirus pandemic, which has now claimed nearly a hundred and fifteen thousand Americans, is still rampaging. “It isn’t over yet,” Fauci said, and, indeed, in twenty-one states, from Arizona to Oregon, cases are still rising. On Wednesday, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Federal Reserve, Jerome Powell, warned that high unemployment and economic fallout stemming from pandemic shutdowns would persist for years to come. “This is the biggest economic shock, in the U.S. and the world, really, in living memory,” Powell said. On Thursday, the Trump-appointed chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, warned of the dangerous politicization of the U.S. military and apologized for appearing in his combat fatigues alongside Trump last week, during a Bible-wielding photo op, minutes before which National Guard troops and U.S. Park Police violently cleared the square of peaceful protesters—beating some and firing flash grenades, chemical spray, and smoke. “I should not have been there,” Milley said. “My presence in that moment and in that environment created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics,” he added. “It was a mistake.” As with the CNN poll he did not like, Trump’s response to his own government’s warnings was to deny or dismiss them—to create his own reality when confronted with the unpleasant fact that the country he leads is lurching from crisis to crisis.

Vigilante’s comparison to crisis-torn Venezuela, in other words, was painfully apt. When I read it, I immediately thought of an extraordinary encounter on the streets of Washington that I witnessed last week, during protests of George Floyd’s killing. Not content just to have Milley march alongside him to a photo op, Trump had demanded a heavily militarized response to the crowds protesting outside the White House and in cities nationwide. In addition to thirteen hundred members of the Washington, D.C., National Guard, five thousand National Guard troops were deployed to the city from eleven states, along with heavily armed federal law-enforcement officers, from prison guards and border-patrol agents to T.S.A. workers. The downtown area near the White House was cordoned off at checkpoints by armored Humvees and gun-wielding troops who refused to identify themselves or even, in many cases, their unit.

On the night of June 3rd, two days after Trump held his photo op there, I watched protesters confront two lines of troops in front of St. John’s Episcopal Church, across the square from the White House. Outraged at having been characterized as lawless rioters by the President, they tried to talk to individual soldiers and the whatever-they-ares in unmarked uniforms, who refused to speak to them or even look them in the eye. The deployment of such a military force to face a bunch of peaceful, sign-bearing, mask-wearing kids looked to me as though it was happening in Caracas, not the capital of the United States. Amid the uproar, one protester’s voice rose above the others. “You did it,” the protester shouted, as he pointed at the young National Guardsmen standing a few inches away from him. “It wasn’t the politicians. It wasn’t ‘socialism.’ No, it was your fucking fascist parade that you got over here. You guys look more like Venezuela than the U.S. right now.” And then he added, with a dramatic flourish not lost on anyone viewing the painfully un-American scene, “I should know: I was born there. I was born in Venezuela. You look like Venezuela!”

From ordering in the military to bludgeoning the media, Trump has certainly been doing a pretty good impersonation of a hack dictator. In the two weeks since Floyd’s killing ignited a profound national conversation about America’s terrible legacy of racism, the President’s contribution to this dialogue has been to consistently misrepresent what is happening as an outbreak of lawless anarchy that he is heroically cleaning up, as part of his newly rebranded “LAW & ORDER” campaign.

Mostly, though, Trump, being Trump, has tried to tweet his way through the interlocking crises. It has not worked. On Tuesday, he began the day with a post suggesting that a septuagenarian protester who had been pushed to the ground by Buffalo police and suffered a serious head injury was somehow an Antifa conspiracist who did it to make the police look bad—an absurd conspiracy theory, which had just aired on Trump’s new favorite TV channel, the One America News Network.

On Capitol Hill, a by-now-familiar dance quickly began as Republican senators desperately sought to avoid comment on another incendiary Trump tweet. This time, they contorted themselves so foolishly that they would have been better off simply saying something, anything, instead of ridiculously pretending not to have anything to say about something so reprehensible and stupid. Burgess Everett, a Politico reporter, took to showing a printed-out copy of the tweet to senators when they claimed not to be familiar with it. So did Manu Raju, of CNN, who elicited a gem from Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, when he tried to read him the tweet. “I would rather not hear it,” Johnson said, as he ducked into an elevator, which might as well be the official new motto of the Senate G.O.P. when it comes to Donald Trump.

They would rather not hear it because, of course, as a senior White House official told one reporter, the tweet speaks for itself. Res ipsa loquitur. It sure does. Trump, in all things, speaks for himself. It’s just that what he says is often so bizarre, alarming, false, and politically problematic that it is hard to process. It has been especially so in recent days, as the country has found itself in need of a leader but stuck with a loudmouth wannabe strongman.

On Wednesday, with Washington still in a furious buzz over the President’s attack on the brutalized senior citizen, Trump distracted from that distraction by deciding to tweet in favor of keeping certain U.S. military bases named for Confederate generals, in what appeared to be a spectacularly ill-timed intervention on behalf of traitorous slaveholders who lost the Civil War. Trump could not have seemed more out of step with the moment. A few hours after that tweet, with the country experiencing a rare outbreak of bipartisanship on the subject of racism, protesters toppled a statue of Jefferson Davis in Richmond, Virginia, while Nascar announced that it was banning all displays of the Confederate flag. On Capitol Hill, on Thursday morning, even the normally quiescent Senate Republicans on the Armed Services Committee suggested that Trump had gone too far and approved, by voice vote, a proposal by the liberal Senator Elizabeth Warren that would require the U.S. military to rename all bases which currently honor Confederate officers within three years. That vote, striking as it was, was quickly overshadowed by an even more consequential rebuke of the President: Milley’s extraordinary statement repudiating his participation in Trump’s militarized photo op. Trump, for once, was silent. At least, for a few hours.

I know it is hard to remember all the crazy things that happen in the course of a week in Trump’s America, but I will try hard to remember this one: a week when I saw troops in the streets and worried about a years-long economic crisis; a week when an untamed pandemic killed up to a thousand Americans a day; a week when massive nationwide protests suggested that our dysfunctional, gridlocked political system might finally actually do something about the plague of police brutality and systemic racism. And then there was the President, who chose to spend the week refighting the Civil War—on the losing side. This, too, I will remember, and so, dear reader, should you.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

Online Eddie

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Re: Going Down With the Bad Ship U.S.A.
« Reply #35 on: June 13, 2020, 07:41:33 AM »
Trump is going for the NASCAR fan vote.....and if it gets him elected, we'll get to hear more of this kind of outraged (but ineffective) bullshit..That is....until he destroys the free press altogether.

It's a shame every media outlet in the country is trying to outdo the rest to see which one can be the loudest hypocritical virtue signaling voice.
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Offline Surly1

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The United States: An Obituary, By Richard Heinberg
« Reply #36 on: June 17, 2020, 04:37:43 AM »
The United States: An Obituary, By Richard Heinberg




It is reasonable to ask whether the United States will continue to exist as a unified nation for much longer.

The United States of America was problematic from the start. It was founded on genocide and slavery, and, while frequently congratulating itself on the rights and freedoms it granted its citizens, never managed to confront the demons in its past. The question would arise repeatedly, generation after generation: rights and freedoms for whom?

Nevertheless, the immigrants who founded a nation on a stolen continent managed to show up in the right place at the right time. The luck of geography and history insulated them from most wars in Europe, while supplying them with vast forests, navigable rivers, rich topsoils, valuable minerals, and much of the world’s most easily accessible coal, oil, and natural gas.

The result, after a century-and-a-half of wealth accumulation and industrial buildup, was global dominance. America invented and taught the world the magic formula of consumerism: cheap energy + advertising + consumer credit = ever-growing levels of commerce, employment, tax revenue, and return on investment. The transformation of nature into quantifiable wealth via energy, technology, capital investment, and labor had never before occurred so rapidly, or on so grand a scale.

The 20th century was without question the American century. After World War II, which was fought at a distance from American soil, the dollar became the world’s reserve currency, and there could be little doubt who was in charge. Even though politicians in Washington insisted that their nation led by example and shouldn’t be thought of as an empire, any other nation’s hesitance to adhere to US rules resulted in a CIA-engineered coup, an invasion, or economic sanctions.

At least since the start of the new century, it has been clear that America’s star is waning. The first signs of trouble came in the 1960s and ’70s, as the pointless Vietnam invasion divided the country, US oil production began to decline, and Richard Nixon devised the War on Drugs as a strategy to incarcerate and disempower large numbers of African Americans. Financialization started turning America into a two-tier casino in the 1980s, but the owner class never complained and the renter class had no voice. More needless, costly wars were to come under the aegis of George W. Bush, a clueless rich kid who wandered into the presidency via family connections, a winsome Texas drawl, and a little help from the Supreme Court. The end of Bush’s second term happened to coincide with the peak of world conventional oil production, the bursting of a financial bubble in the housing market, and the start of the global financial crisis. But the nation dodged these deadly bullets, just barely.

Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, was charged with cleaning up the mess. Obama was intelligent, articulate, and empathetic; moreover, in his speeches he appealed to values that united most Americans. However, despite hope from many progressives that his election would lead to substantive changes in economic, military, healthcare, and environmental policies, Obama was unable or unwilling to break with the status quo. Crucially, he failed to prevent Treasury and Federal Reserve officials from crafting a recovery that rewarded the investor class while further immiserating wage laborers.

Speculators, now flush with bailout cash, were eager to identify the Next Big Thing; many thought they found it in the fracking frenzy. Soon small, heavily hyped companies were producing millions of barrels of oil each day from shale formations in North Dakota, Texas, and Oklahoma, while yielding almost no profits for drillers and investors. It was a pyramid scheme, but one with a tangible product. Peak oil was postponed, and America was once again the world’s top petroleum producer.

Throughout the Obama years, social media began playing an expanding role in the daily lives of most Americans. These convenient, addictive, and highly profitable digital tools facilitated fun communication while also fracturing the country’s common understanding of reality. They offered users ever more fodder for whatever they already believed, even if those beliefs amounted to the looniest of conspiracy theories.

In 2008, a European acquaintance asked me how I thought the US would react to having an African-American president. I replied that, given the persistent racism rampant in my country, there would be hell to pay one way or another.

Eight years later, hell arrived in the person of Donald J. Trump, promoter of the discredited notion that Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and was therefore ineligible for the presidency. Plenty has been written about Trump’s psychology—his narcissism, his lack of curiosity and compassion, and his tendency to be driven by personal grievance. Much reportage has also been devoted to his administration’s alarming actions—its dismantling of environmental regulations, its crippling of constitutional checks and balances, and its dramatic undermining of America’s standing worldwide. Inevitably, a growing majority of the voting public is turning against Trump; his response is not to run a competent reelection campaign (or a competent government, for that matter), but instead to divide the country further on every conceivable issue, with the evident intent of contesting the results of the November ballot, thereby throwing the nation into political turmoil of a ferocity not seen since the spate of urban uprisings and assassinations (JFK, MLK, RFK, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X) in the 1960s, and perhaps not since the Civil War.

Oh, and there’s the pandemic. The emergence of something like the novel coronavirus was inevitable at some point, as public health experts had long warned, but this particular bug just happened to arrive at a moment when America was divided and distrustful. Lack of federal leadership resulted in arguably the most inept pandemic response in any industrial country, with the US leading the world in infections and deaths. While some nations were able to eliminate the virus entirely by acting early and cooperatively, America under Trump dithered and denied its way into a polarized confusion wherein even the choice of whether to wear a facemask is a tribal signal. Up to half of Americans say they won’t take a vaccine when it becomes available.

Due to the pandemic, America is now mired in an economic depression, with nearly unprecedented levels of unemployment and widespread bankruptcies. Meanwhile, the stock market—once again buoyed by unimaginably generous bailouts—is riding high.

As if the nation’s body politic weren’t already riddled with enough mortal ills, the cancer of racism has suddenly metastasized, exemplified in yet another police killing of an unarmed African American. Decades of Jim Crow laws, lynchings, criminalization, and government-backed loan programs that gave a lift to white citizens while holding blacks down have built up an unmanageable backlog of resentments and fears. As emotions reached boiling temperature, Trump responded by pouring fuel on the flames, tweeting, “When the looting starts, the shooting starts”—a phrase used previously by Miami Police Chief Walter Headley.

As students of the history of authoritarian regimes have frequently noted, once a slide toward dictatorship begins within a democracy, it is difficult to halt; usually, the only force powerful enough to stop it is large numbers of people in the street.

However, days of massive street protests, most of them peaceful and featuring people of all ages and skin colors, have shifted the political calculus of the nation ahead of the November election. As students of the history of authoritarian regimes have frequently noted, once a slide toward dictatorship begins within a democracy, it is difficult to halt; usually, the only force powerful enough to stop it is large numbers of people in the street. The recent protests didn’t specifically target Trump, but they certainly drew energy from long-simmering anger and resentment against him, and his transparent support for white nationalists and institutionalized racism in all its forms. Now military leaders are openly breaking with the president. As a result of these developments, the likelihood of Trump consolidating power over the longer term is considerably diminished.

The protests were an outpouring that a majority of the nation could be proud of. Over the short term, America seems to have dodged a couple of bullets. The possibility of a Trump dictatorship is receding; so is the immediate threat of the pandemic—in most people’s minds, at least. Businesses are reopening, and concerts and sporting events are being rescheduled.

Nevertheless, expectations of a recovery to the status quo ante are not just premature; they’re fundamentally unrealistic. Even assuming that a new administration takes charge next year, the United States is entering a period of political, social, and economic dissolution. Its unconventional oil production rate has now peaked and is in steep decline, a debt bubble even larger than the one that existed in 2007 is ripe to pop, and COVID-19 threatens to wash back through the populace in repeated waves. Meanwhile, the specter of climate upheaval, for which the US is also entirely unprepared, lurks in the background, promising rising seas and worsening wildfires, droughts, floods, and storms.

In short, we are living through the fall of a great power. With it will go a unique way of organizing the world. The symbolism of president Trump cowering in an underground bunker beneath the White House in late May couldn’t be plainer.

It is reasonable to ask whether the United States will continue to exist as a unified nation for much longer. The federal government has become so incompetent as to be increasingly irrelevant to the solution of many pressing problems—and a new face in the White House may not change the situation decisively. Out of necessity, states are exploring strategies of regionalism, as governors in the Pacific Northwest, the Midwest, and the Northeast collaborate to respond to the pandemic. Governor Gavin Newsom has even taken to calling California a “nation state.” States do not have monetary sovereignty, and therefore cannot run up huge deficits in order to cushion the impact of economic depression. State banks, which could create and lend money for such purposes, have been proposed as the next-best thing. However, devolution of power to the states may do little to address the urban-rural economic, racial, and political disparities that are ripping the nation’s social fabric.

Whether or not they ultimately remain legally united, the country’s inhabitants and their descendants will probably still identify themselves as “Americans” of one subgroup or another. Out of necessity, they will find ways to adapt to a less consumptive, more localized way of life. For many—especially for those who take proactive steps to build personal, household, and community resilience—there could be some advantages to living in the wake of empire. But all will have some rough seas to navigate before there is much to cheer about.

Greed, consumerism, racism, and imperial ambition sealed our nation’s fate. If, as people, we wish to move forward, we must revert to the best of our early unifying values: hard work, thrift, generosity, fairness, honesty, ingenuity, and mutual respect. We’ll need to embody these values increasingly in local institutions, businesses, and other social arrangements of every conceivable kind if we are to minimize the human cost of national failure. It’s not too soon to start.


Richard Heinberg is a senior fellow at the Post Carbon Institute and the author of thirteen books, including his most recent:Our Renewable Future. Previous books include: Afterburn: Society Beyond Fossil Fuels, Snake Oil: How Fracking’s False Promise of Plenty Imperils Our Future; The Party’s Over: Oil, War, and the Fate of Industrial Societies; Peak Everything: Waking Up to the Century of Declines; and The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality.
"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it."

 

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