October 26, 2010

The sign post up ahead reads Twilight Zone

It's never true until Nate Silver says it's true, so I guess it's now the case: the Republicans are going to take the House of Representatives. Nate's done his "Monte Carlo" simulations (at least 100,000 of them), and the tumblers keep falling in the same place: about 230 Republicans, 205 Democrats. A gain of 50 seats in two years.

I liked it better when Nate ran a stand-alone blog (his "538" site) instead of as a prognosticator for the New York Times, but his work looks much the same. He tends to be scary accurate. In the Senate, it appears likely the Democrats will wind up with about 51 or 52 seats, and the current odds favor the election of Sharron Angle over Harry Reid, although it's a very close race. A world without Mr. Mumbles - I just can't imagine it.

Thus endeth the days of Democratic hegemony, of the powerful dominance in the House and the near "veto-proof" advantage in the Senate. We will have a completely divided government. A Republican House, a Democratic Senate, a Republican Supreme Court and an undeclared White House. I imagine that President Obama will move from irrelevant to invisible, but at least he will have the consolation of a ready-made excuse: what can he possibly do with a divided Congress, one house of which is implacably hostile to any of his ideas and the other saddled with the "60-vote" rule?

We will thus transition from the era in which almost nothing was accomplished to an era where nothing whatsoever gets accomplished. In some ways, if your mind is partial to controlled experiments and the scientific method in general, this will present an opportunity for learning. The USA, instead of being primarily a place where the conflicts are internal, will now face two new foes: the rest of the world's population and Mother Nature. This should be interesting. I'm as bored as the next person listening to all the usual formulations, the "Progressives" against the "Conservatives," et cetera. Keith Olbermann versus Bill O'Reilly (although now that I've discontinued cable television, I don't see much of that). The American electorate seems so absolutely devoid of new ideas that it is simply, and reflexively, going to return the Republicans to power because they're the other choice. That's what the Republicans have going for them: they're not the Democrats. What a creative society!

While Obama was President with a Democratic Congress, he was unable to do anything. He couldn't get any global warming legislation passed. The costs of healthcare are as sky high and unaffordable as ever. Wall Street is still running amok, with the pace of wealth-concentration in the upper one percentile undiminished. Unemployment, realistically speaking, is about 20%. The dark shadow of Peak Oil hangs over everything, and we didn't do a thing about it. The value of everything continues to deflate, other than the stock markets pumped on Federal Reserve money-printing operations. In about one year, about 30 to 40% of all houses in America will have loans against them greater than the value of the house itself. Homelessness and poverty will continue to proliferate. And meanwhile, the world at large, which has gotten extremely tired of American currency manipulation and systematic fraud as its main economic outputs, is steadily reorganizing itself for the post-American future.

On issues such as climate change, the USA will increasingly play the role of world pariah. Using about 25% of the world's fossil fuels (with 4% of the population) and producing 20% of the world's greenhouse gases, America is being left behind by countries which are facing the truth about the need to change to sustainable energy, including, oddly enough, the People's Republic of China. The wars we keep fighting and fomenting (and which we ask other countries to finance) irritate the hell out of the rest of the world.

So against this backdrop, we will switch gears from 2nd down to 1st, forgoing even the appearance of adaptation in favor of theocratic distractions, witchcraft, Rand Paul-like Luddite racist reaction, gay-bashing and other stuff which was last this popular during the Dark Ages. America, I think, will be more like a howling mob controlled by corporate bastions behind security gates, bastions which employ people in other, poorer (but not for long!) countries to make stuff and produce their wealth, with the occasional invasion of another country to remind us that we're all patriotic Americans being "kept safe" by the Pentagon.

An Armed Madhouse, as Greg Palast described it. This should be interesting, in a macabre way.

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