In the background of all this sits the pathetic figure of President GeorgeW. Bush. He's pathetic because he has been in a position - not facingreelection - to tell the American people the truth, but he's shown nocapacity for apprehending it. If he represents anything, it's the ideathat the truth is optional, that if reality is disappointing, just createyour own reality. Here are the some of truths that we seem unable to face: Very soon we won't have the fossil fuel energy supplies to run the U.S.A.as it is currently set up, and no combination of wished-for alternativeenergy schemes based on so-called "renewables" will allow us to keeprunning it, either. Meaning, that we'd better start making otherarrangements immediately for how we occupy the landscape, how we grow ourfood, how we move people and things from place to place, and how wereconstruct an economy consistent with these new arrangements. The longer we put off making these new arrangements, the harder we'regoing to slam into a wall of reality, and when it occurs a lot of thingswill shake loose in this country. It will become self-evident that thethings we've invested all our wealth in will not retain value - especiallysuburban real estate and all the activities related to car dependency,from the interstate highway system to national chain retail. It will alsobecome obvious that we can't base our economy on building more of thisstuff. Our current military adventures in the Middle East, are predicated largelyon keeping the old arrangements going. We're in Iraq because we builtDallas, Atlanta, Orlando, Houston, Phoenix, Los Angeles, and Long Islandthe way we did, and the only way we can hope to keep these organisms goingeven a little while longer is to keep open our oil supply line to thePersian Gulf. The truth is, these organisms will not survive theoil-scarcer future in the form they're in. The American people need tocome to grips with this. No amount of chest-thumping around the globe willchange it. In any case, sooner or later we'll exhaust our military andbankrupt ourselves trying to project our influence into these placesoverseas - meaning, sooner or later we will withdraw back into our ownhemisphere. I wonder if Wolf Blitzer of CNN will ask any of thecandidates, what happens then? A basic rule of reality is that you can't get something for nothing.Sooner or later the financial sector will have to come to grips with thisrule, meaning that that debt is not wealth and the revolving reallocationof debt in the form of credit does not amount to wealth creation. TheUnited States will arrive at a magic moment when the full force of thisreality reasserts itself, and it is likely to make itself manifest in thecollapse of the entity most closely associated the idea of wealth: thedollar. Assets vested in the dollar's legitimacy will follow its fate. Theimplication is that an awful lot of the presumed wealth held by Americanscould vanish into thin air. Do any of the candidates for presidentrecognize how this works, or have any idea how much disorder this phasechange will send thundering through our sociopolitical infrastructure? With the election campaign revving up so prematurely, it is very possiblethat all the candidates now in the arena will exhaust, bankrupt, and evendisgrace their campaigns as they desperately pirouette around thesepainful truths, and that none of them will survive the process with theirpolitical legitimacy intact. In the meantime, unsettling events on theoutside will intrude on the protective bubble in which the public hastaken shelter -more bloody disturbances around the Middle East, dangerousshenanigans in the financial markets, untoward weather events invulnerable places. The premature election campaign, with all its reassuring televisedceremonies of pre-cooked debate and formal posturing, may end up havingthe opposite of its intended effect. It may expose the more frighteningreality that our political system is not up to the challenges before us.And then what will we do?