"Lit and Sputtering: A Dark Prospect"
by James Howard Kunstler
You can see where the trajectory of events is leading. The country will be distracted by racial strife this summer while the global banking system implodes, disabling trade relations and the super-long supply chains we depend on for all common goods from oil to fresh food. Unless the remnants of the Republican Party act responsibly and find a way to replace Trump with a capable candidate, the nation will get what it deserves: a clown in the white house at the climax of the Fourth Turning.
The racial events of recent days resonate in a fog of cognitive dissonance. What really happened in those two incidents involving Philando Castile in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, and Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge Louisiana? Too many people pretend to know exactly why these two men were shot by cops. The video recordings of the incidents are ambiguous. In the Castile case, the recording doesn’t start until just after the deed is done.
Given the universal hyper-awareness of the current mood around the country, I doubt that policemen would throw away their livelihoods for a few thrilling seconds of malice. They know exactly what happens after the gun comes out: suspension, investigation, end-of-career, possibly civil prosecution, lawyers and more lawyers, a special hell of lawyers, and no way to make a living in the meantime. In a word: ruin.
These two incidents were followed by the shootings in Dallas by one Micah Johnson of twelve cops, five of whom died. That matter was not so ambiguous. The authorities quickly determined what happened and why. It is likely to lead to more assassinations and bushwhackings of police because a peculiar social mechanism gives people permission to re-enact atrocities once certain lines are crossed. We saw that in the political assassinations that commenced in the 1960s. The Jihadi beheadings and other monstrosities work similarly.
The possibilities for mayhem around the upcoming party conventions (Philadelphia and Cleveland) now look much darker than just a few weeks ago. Hillary took advantage of last week’s racial strife to deflect the blows she took from FBI Director James Comey in his public remarks about Hillary’s email problem. She went into full pander mode, blaming “white privilege” for the recent enormities involving guns and police. Of course, that will only fuel the “narrative” that whites are wholly responsible for black dysfunction, a false story that will lead to more conflict.
The legal spectacle surrounding Hillary and the FBI left many thoughtful Americans scratching their heads. The most superficial angle was how FBI Director Comey let Hillary off the hook because her “extremely careless” actions involving the email server did not include any “intent” to break the laws. The trouble is, the federal statutes pertaining to the case do not require any evidence of intent; the actions alone are enough to warrant a criminal referral. Mr. Comey skated over this matter. One cute theory circulating is that he didn’t dare to alter history by setting in motion events that would elevate Trump to power. Who knows…?
Much more remains to be seen in the Hillary email matter, because the real issue is not whether she maintained a private email server against regulations but whether she used that email server to stuff the bank account of the Clinton Foundation with money grifted while serving as Secretary of State. You can be sure we have not heard the end of that issue, and beyond that are the questions surrounding her gigantic speaking fees from Too-Big-Too-Fail banks, the texts of which she has resolutely refused to publically disclose.
This latter issue will become increasingly of interest to voters this summer and fall as trouble in the European banks provokes a contagion of banking failures that will thunder around the planet and begin to cause very serious practical problems for daily life in all the so-called advanced economies. Nobody in and around power in America these days is equipped to manage this epochal calamity, especially while we stumble and blunder our way into race war.
I was in the streets of Chicago in 1968 during the Democratic Convention. It was only a few months after Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King were shot to death. The “establishment,” as we called it back then, was all set to nominate Vice-president Hubert Humphrey who had started out in Washington as a Midwestern progressive firebrand but was now was broadly perceived by America’s hippie youth as a stooge and a sell-out to the evil forces running the Vietnam War.
I wasn’t exactly a protester, more like a proto-journalist, there to witness an epochal event. It was a wild three days with a lot of moiling in Lincoln Park and Grant Park, and finally out on Michigan Avenue the night of Humphrey’s awful apotheosis, where things got especially ugly and the tear gas canisters flew. But that was about it. Nobody got killed by the police, or vice-versa, and then we all went back to college (my SUNY school cost $500-a-year back then, by the bye). Nixon was the consolation prize.
Back then, it was in style to assassinate political leaders. Today it’s in fashion to assassinate police. It’s hard to imagine easier targets. Where trouble is brewing in the streets nowadays, there they stand right out in front, easily distinguished in their uniforms. That was exactly the picture on the front page of The New York Times today: the thin blue line in Cleveland, where the Republican convention convenes this week to nominate the golden deus ex machina Donald Trump. There are few things in life one can predict with certainty, but given the grave events of recent weeks, it is hard to see how deadly gunplay might be avoided at the 2016 Republican convention.
Maybe the police will just decide to stay indoors and not present themselves as targets. Likelihood of that: not much. Ohio officials are talking about suspending the “open carry” law for the duration of the event. That would probably make for better “optics” than, say, an armed mob brandishing repeating rifles, but even if that law is suspended, it’s not hard to imagine people carrying weapons in a guitar case or a backpack. The killing meme is just on, like the deadly spirits that wafted out of Pandora’s Box.
Maybe it’s time for the Black President, Mr. Obama, to just come out and tell the black population that their grievances against the police are trumped up, shall we say: that Alton Sterling was not an upright citizen doin’ nuttin’ but a convicted felon carrying a gun, and that we still don’t know the facts about what Philando Castile was doing when he got shot in his car, and, well, he might just go back and shake off the fairy dust surrounding the Michael Brown (Ferguson) incident, the Tamir Rice (“toy” gun) incident, and all the other ambiguous situations of the past several years that have sparked the current crisis in race relations.
Otherwise, it’s beginning to look a lot like race war in America. Political and thought leaders have so far failed to conduct that fabled “conversation about race” that is such a phantom presence in the national life. It is apparently too painful to actually undertake. The pretenses about it have become ludicrous — for example Hillary Clinton’s recent utterance that “white people need to recognize our privilege,” and the fatuous calls to “come together.”
Both black and white America (especially “liberal” HRC America) might better ask themselves: why have we promoted the idea that blacks needn’t bother trying to assimilate into the nation’s common culture (such of it that actually remains)? This is what the idiotic “diversity” cult does, accompanied by the even more idiotic idea that “inclusion” is required for those who choose not to be included in that common culture. The damage from fifty years of these shibboleths ought to be obvious now. But emotions are carrying us past the moment of self-examination on any side. Perhaps that “conversation about race” can only take place after a greater convulsion, when people finally get sick of what their dishonesty has wreaked.”