by James Howard Kunstler
... There is no theme song for [economic] contraction - at least not one with a hummable tune. The current background music sounds like Stockhausen run through scrap-metal shredder. No wonder everybody's so nervous.
A few hours ago I drove up the immaculately conceived highways north out of Detroit to the drear industrial outlands of Happy Motoring history, north past Flint and Saginaw where an exhausted American Dream is being hunted down by the angry ghosts of the Wyandots. The heartland these days looks like it's preparing for a return trip to the 9th century A.D. Nobody knows what's ailing it, but they're whispering of "last stands" out here around the all-you-can-eat buffet at the year 'round Christmas Shoppe.
And the Tea Party aims to fix all this, to make things right again. I listen to their blather about "freedom" and all I can imagine is the sound of boots outside the door, and men in badly-fitted camo uniforms and buzzcut hair commanding me to accept John Boehner as my personal savior. ...
... You can just feel the heat of emotion rising, ... . We can't speak clearly anymore; we can only beat drums. All across the land self-appointed saviors are stepping up to heroically rescue the squandered entitlements of the bygone day: Rand Paul, the Kentucky physician who (like his dad) subscribes to the idea that the earth is only about 4000 years old; Dan Maes, the Colorado Tea Party candidate for governor who believes that bicycling is a "gateway drug" to communism; Sharron Angle, the Nevada polymoron running John Birch Society scripts to the psychologically-spavined blackjack dealers crowding the unemployment lines. ("The Trilateral Commission and the Bilderburgers did this to you!"); and lonely Joe Miller, the hermit-attorney of Fairbanks, stalking out of his survivalist cave to drive a silver lance through the flaming heart of the ravening liberal windigo. ...
Kunstler's essay can be read in its entirety by clicking the post's title.
Kunstler's "Rehearsal for a Civil War" is another piece about the Tea Party; his blog is here.
Stockhausen's "Helicopter String Quartet" can be heard here. The recording may not be the best, or my computer's audio isn't the best, because Stockhausen wrote, "The microphone transmission from each helicopter should be such that the sounds of the rotor blades and that of the instrument blend well, and the instrument is heard slightly louder," but when I listened to the MP3 the helicopters weren't that audible.
After listening to Stockhausen's piece (or the tea partiers), you may be ready for Zen. See yesterday's post, "Something to bug you," below.
Frank Rich, writing this morning in The NY Times, elucidates the origin of the anger and the Tea Party:
The Tea Party has, since then, however, become a front for big business and the Republican party.
... That wave of anger began with the parallel 2008 cataclysms of the economy’s collapse and Barack Obama’s ascension. The mood has not subsided since. But in the final stretch of 2010, the radical right’s anger is becoming less focused, more free-floating — more likely to be aimed at “government” in general, whatever the location or officials in charge. The anger is also more likely to claim minorities like gays, Latinos and Muslims as collateral damage. This is a significant and understandable shift, if hardly a salutary one. The mad-as-hell crowd in America, still not seeing any solid economic recovery on the horizon, will lash out at any convenient scapegoat.The rage was easier to parse at the Tea Party’s birth, when, a month after Obama’s inauguration, its founding father, CNBC’s Rick Santelli, directed his rant at the ordinary American “losers” (as he called them) defaulting on their mortgages, and at those in Washington who proposed bailing the losers out. (Funny how the Bush-initiated bank bailouts went unmentioned.) Soon enough, the anger tilted toward Washington ...