Aug 14, 2011

The End of the Empire

An Omen
Originally uploaded by Snak Shak
During my drive to and from Central Wisconsin this weekend, I spent a little too much time listening to podcasts. If I have one thought-leader I follow, it's James Howard Kunstler. I listen to his Kunstlercast podcasts pretty regularly, and although he can be a little strident at times, I almost never disagree with him on the basics of his premises.

One of the more interesting Kunstlercasts I listened to discussed the continuing emergence of a conservative/religious/tea-party movement in the U.S. and what's behind it.

Kunstler referenced interviews and Rand Paul, comments of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck and other Tea Party types and rendered it down to a common theme - hate and intolerance.

It was not lost on me that the next podcast dealt with Kunstler's trip to Berlin, and the efforts that Germany has gone to to try and remove the fascist history from their streetscape (here's an example: after trying to demolish Hitler's bunker 3 or 4 times, it's now a paved parking lot).

One of the precursors to Germany falling into a fascist state was the stress and strain of it's prolonged economic troubles. Now, after 3 years of bad economy and with Bachman winning the Iowa straw pole and coming off of the clusterfuck that was the debt-ceiling "discussion", I see more than a few parallels between Germany and the U.S. at this point.

I don't know what it is going to take to get our politicians to put their petty gamesmanship aside and focus on the public good. There's a lot that needs fixing and a lot that needs to get pointed in the right direction, and political coup-counting is not in the public interest at this point.

I blame both sides - the Republicans for spewing hate (or letting the far right spew hate) and the Democrats for not calling it what it is. If they don't put it to bed, I think things will get worse for all of us, regardless of how we voted in the last election.


  1. Is this James Howard Kunstler? I was not aware he had a podcast?

  2. It is James Howard Kunstler. I edited the post to include a link to his Kunstlercast site. You can also get them on Itunes and Audible, I believe.

  3. I've been wondering some of the same thoughts lately, related to the economic rough time in the U.S. and potential rise of extremisms, some of which already seems to be in the works. Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    And regarding one of the previous posts, the folding bike is rad, BTW. The more people that ride bikes, including folding bikes, the more normal it will become. In my suburban neighbourhood, people think it's weird I ride a bike at all (for commuting), no matter what bike it is. I hope to see this changed in the next decade or so. Someone has to pioneer change.

    P.S. I found this blog via the Urban Adventure League, in case you were wondering. Shawn and April stayed at our place when passing through the Canadian Prairies.

  4. Great comment, Prairie Voyageur. There's a subset of the population here that sees riding a bike as the most normal way a person can get around, and in a city like this, it's often the easiest and by far the cheapest option. Thumbing your nose at car-culture is inherently subversive, though, so I expect it will take years for riding a bike to be widely accepted by the majority of the population.