If you have "no place to go," come here!

Come on down!


Over at Tom Tomorrow's place, Jonathan Schwarz:

McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate certainly demonstrates one thing: living through the decadent phase of the American empire is going to be REALLY EXCITING. It could only have been more surprising if McCain had chosen a polyp from his large intestine.

A well-functioning empire would produce presidential and vice-presidential candidates for both parties who (1) are experienced in running the empire, and (2) operate predictably within a narrow framework. And indeed, the US empire used to be like that. Eisenhower-Nixon gave way to Kennedy-LBJ. When Goldwater captured the nomination in 1964 with some real psycho vibes, the liberal imperial mainstream could easily crush him—because the empire, then at its height, had the breathing room to offer lots of inducements to regular Americans.

Bush-Cheney have screwed up so badly there might be one last, small opening for sane managers like Obama-Biden. “Vote for us, and we’ll give you a better-run empire, and, and…gay marriage!” However, while there is a long-term constituency for this, it’s a pretty small one.

So before long, there will only be two options for the people who want to run things. First, they could organize a rational liquidation of much of the empire, which would free up enough resources to create a long-term winning coalition. Second, they could go completely bugfuck nuts, and try to maintain the empire while cutting back on all social benefits and counting on the thrills of military triumph and chialism to keep them in power. What won’t be possible is the Obama-Biden approach.

In other words, the days of a rational American empire are drawing to a close. We’ll be forced to discard either the empire part, or the rational part. And based on 10,000 years of human history, I’m guessing it’s the rational part that will go.

Whether McCain wins or not, Sarah Palin is a harbinger of the future. The fact there was no one able to prevent McCain from choosing such an obviously inadequate imperial manager, and choosing her in such a bizarre, panicked way, indicates that—as during the decline of Rome, or the last years of Saddam’s regime—everyone sane has already been eliminated from the power structure. And thus we’re left with nothing but the whim of whoever’s clambered to the top of the Crazy Pole.

Welcome to the Terrordome!

That sums it up about right. And the only one who got this one right is Ron Paul. God help us.

Houses! Flag lapel pins! Ponies!

No votes yet


badger's picture
Submitted by badger on

this sounds like a Village narrative to me. If Palin is an "inadequate imperial manager", what makes Obama adequate? The expectation that he'll follow orders better? His metrosexuality and Ivy League education?

It raises my populist hackles to hear Palin described as unqualified when none of the other 3 players have done much to make this less of an empire or even a better empire - for the sum of their vaunted experience (plus or minus Obama's, which is pretty much marginal) they haven't exactly delivered something that wasn't "bugfuck nuts". Keating? DuPont? Bankruptcy? Iraq AUMF?

Palin couldn't do that much worse than either the present administration or the other 3 major party candidates, and as slim as her track record is, it shows some definite signs of accomplishment in the right direction - something pretty lacking in the rest of the field. Her politics suck - that just puts her on a par with the other 3 IMO.

And what's the dataset for the decline and fall curve the author is projecting? The single Bush/Cheney point, or is he going all the way back to LBJ (the last President he names). Nixon was sane? Reagan? Ronnie wasn't about cutting social benefits and going deep in debt for more weapons or arming the Contras? Did I live through a different 1980s than this guy? In what category does he place Carter and Clinton, or even Bush I?

This just sounds like more of the "Obama is the Messiah" stuff. He'd better be - we'll need a fucking miracle to have a country left after he either wins or loses the election. Who does Schwarz think were the players that got us to this point? Here's a hint: of the 4 candidates, it wasn't Sarah Palin.

We need a better class of punditz or pseudo-punditz or whatever Schwarz is.

Submitted by lambert on

Gawd, what was it, less than 24 hours and it's as if another Greatest Speech EVAH was written on the wind. I should have cut the Palin part, I swear.

This is the key paragraph, which I think is spot on:

In other words, the days of a rational American empire are drawing to a close. We’ll be forced to discard either the empire part, or the rational part. And based on 10,000 years of human history, I’m guessing it’s the rational part that will go.

Glasses! Dog races! Kittens!

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

badger's picture
Submitted by badger on

If you don't want people commenting on Palin, don't start a quote about Palin with "McCain's selection of Sarah Palin ...", at least without some further qualification.

As far as the key paragraph, what is there to say about it? Guns or butter was a topic of discussion in the 1960s, and we haven't chosen leaders who were competent in foreign affairs and interested in repairing the social fabric (much less improving it) since Nixon at least. I don't see any this year.

Schwarz's article is kind of like a Roman waking up some time in the 5th century AD and wondering what happened to the Republic and why there are barbarians at the gate.

It's been a long time coming.

dr sardonicus's picture
Submitted by dr sardonicus on

And the only one who got this one right is Ron Paul.

Sad, isn't it. Half of the American people want to conquer the globe. The other half want to restore the Articles of Confederation.

...for the rest of us

makana44's picture
Submitted by makana44 on

McCain's choice of Palin has caused a shift in the fabric of reality. If McCain-Palin win this year and McCain makes good on his commitment to be a one term president, the 2012 GE could conceivably, even likely, be Clinton versus Palin - a two woman race. I can’t even begin to get my arms fully around that one. The "irrational American empire" will have produced the election for the ages, unprecedented in recorded human history. Maybe something like that happened in an Amazonia way many millennium ago, beyond the confines of the civilized world. The concept of a glass ceiling would be obliterated. Wouldn't you love to see that in your lifetime…two women running against each other for President of the United States. And that is actually a feasibility at this very moment in time. Truly unprecedented. Mind boggling.

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

I've been thinkin' on a Clinton vs Palin 2012 race too, lately. Epic.

So evil twin Valhalla half wants to see it just to find out how fast the bloggerboiz heads explode. They won't know where to aim the Misogyny Guns.

But exploding heads wouldn't be the best thing. Best thing is a country acculturating to seriously powerful women. It would make this whole hideous failure of an election year (almost) worth it.

Submitted by Paul_Lukasiak on

Palin is probably the best possible choice when it comes to managing an empire. By taking on the old boys network in Alaska, she's demonstrated that she understands that Empires fall from within--from the corrupting influence of power.

Of course, I'd not a big fan of 'empire' myself, so Palin's potential for empire management isn't exactly a plus for me.

It just bugs me when people like Schwartz make up arguments out of whole cloth, ignoring evidence that contradicts his argument, simply to push his agenda and appear to be a big thinker.

rrot's picture
Submitted by rrot on

If you're going to present an edited post, please at least say so and indicate with ellipsis where you've cut stuff out. The missing portions do go toward addressing some of these replies. And sadly, folks can't be expected to either follow links or get that there might be missing material addressing their 'concerns' if you don't show where you've cut.

Anyone attendant to the bulk of Jonathan Schwarz's writings (which can mostly be found at A Tiny Revolution) would never believe him capable of producing "village narrative" -- frankly, ATR is one of the few enlightened spots on the 'tubes.

"what makes Obama adequate? The expectation that he’ll follow orders better?" Uh, that's _exactly_ right.

Now, have you got anything real for us on this Ron Paul was right theme, or is that just some unsupported throwaway line?

herb the verb's picture
Submitted by herb the verb on

I remember thinking that when I read this. And of course two weeks ago he didn't have a problem with inexperience. Then again, I'm ready for Tom's rip-roaring knee slapper about Sarah Palin being incompetent, after all, some of Tom's bestest, most hillarious lines are about how the womens shouldn't be all up in this political bidness, "John Kerry, with different reproductive organs!". Ha ha, oh Tom, you do SLAY.

As for this being your typical Villager Narrative, well, let's just say Tom and Frank Rich seemed to be joined at the hip last week.


Around these parts we call cucumber slices circle bites

Submitted by lambert on

Yeah. That's a problem. Oh, man. Another one gone.

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.