The unique American writer Joan Didion once wrote, “Las Vegas is the most extreme and allegorical of American settlements – bizarre and beautiful in its venality . . . in its devotion to immediate gratification . . . which makes it an extraordinarily stimulating and interesting place.”
And later she also wrote, “The desert, any desert, is indeed the valley of death.”
What can one make of this other than that writers fabricate viewpoints out of one corner of their mouths one time, and later out of another. It is the territory we inherit, which we discover after years of repeatedly placing our behinds on a chair and straining mightily to write something, almost anything, hopefully, that makes any sense
One plugs on with words anyway. Unless one is a musician, painter, photographer, or mime, there is no way to express emotions, feelings, intuitions, opinions, or outright guessing but with words. The words become in time a trap one cannot escape. Frequently little more, however, than a tenuous amusement for both writer and reader.
Las Vegas, I therefore propose, is something entirely different from Didion’s take on it. I say it is one of the most honest places there is. It is simple fact that the gangster world which created it was right. Vice is enticing and an economic winner. Partying, drinking, eating, sex, and gambling against life’s odds is easy to sell to an international consumer-addicted population.
Millions visit here annually to buy it with smiles on their faces. And the economic result to the town of Las Vegas, it cannot be denied, is financial success. The streets are well maintained, the libraries carry all the necessary books; no one succeeds in banning any of them. Uniquely, Las Vegas seems to demonstrate that when sin is legalized, fewer criminals exist and enlightened intellectual freedom is preserved.
Vegas’s consequence for me personally, after my disappointing experiment with France, ended up being a five-week battle with bronchial infection. During these past five weeks my brain ceased to function. 100% of its energy was focused 24 hours a day on coughing to clear my breathing tubes. A truly unenjoyable experience. Thinking about the world, let alone writing about it, lurched to a screeching halt.
However, my brain, as it is, is back and I’m again prepared to espouse my sometime controversial views about human existence on our still persistently rotating planet.
One of the most interesting facts to enter my returning consciousness is a Gallup poll which documents that Republicans describing Russia an ally or friend rose from 22% to 40% in recent years. Their loyalty to this belief apparently remains intact today. Tellingly, this percentage is approximately the number of Americans who still admire Donald Trump.
I find this “interesting” because I just finished the book “Putin’s People” by Reuters reporter Catherine Belton. Ms. Belton’s work was designated by ‘The Economist” magazine in 2020 as book of the year. That opinion was shared by many major international journals.
Ms. Belton’s history of Putin documents in massively researched detail the fact that Putin’s government is the direct continuation of the KGB Intelligence control of the Soviet Union. She points out that it is now a dictatorship falsely promoted to the world as a form of Capitalism. And that many American businesses have financially contributed to its establishment.
Evidence concludes that Putin’s government is a Putin-dominated, centralized oligarchic collaboration among the Russian Criminal world and the KGB, with deep financial ties through fake corporations to many Western (including U.S.) businesses. It documents distinctly precisely how Putin created his government out of previous Soviet Union KGB personnel. Ms. Belton names lots of names.
It also, in its final chapter, outlines the relationship of Putin’s government to Donald Trump. I’ll not burden you here and now with any further details. I will, however, recommend that if you are particularly cozy with Mr. Trump, you read Ms. Belton’s book. Start with the last chapter about Trump. If that peaks your intellectual curiosity, plunge through the entire book.
My long-range, generalized conclusion, based on the book and much other public journalistic reporting, is that a growing alliance between Russia, China, and Iran is inferred from the facts. Actually, that such an alliance is in the cards for the future for all international, authoritarian-oriented countries versus all international countries still convinced that Democracy is a viable concept.
Not only is American Democracy presently at stake. Rather, a newly emerging international battle is stewing between the two distinct political forces: Democracy and Authoritarian rule.
The South China Sea/Taiwan confrontation, Ukraine, and the Iranian/American nuclear issue exemplify this emerging worldwide battle. That battle is indeed highly probable to involve serious military force on a worldwide scale.
I think this is scenario may constitute the future of our children and their children.
If you would like to argue against me about my premise, first read Ms. Belton’s book. I believe that anyone personally unfamiliar with the contents of “Putin’s People” is politically illiterate. And that one cannot rationally favor Putin and Trump if one has read her book.
Read. Let us then see what your long-range opinion may be.