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Tea Party Express, NevadaVoting, Lexington, MissouriClosed manufacturing plant, MichiganHouse stripped by brick thieves, St Louis, Mo.

Buffalo, New YorkMiami, James EgglestonBasel/Miami Art showPavement plays Williamsburg, Brooklyn Ocean Park #117, Richard Diebenkorn (sold for 6 million, 2009)
Chicago Stock Exchange (destroyed), detail, Louis SullivanAspens, ColoradoMountain top Massey coal mine, West VirginiaPentagonKentileInmate processing centerJasper Johns, NumbersFBI file of John Lennon’s fingerprintsMohamed Osman Mohamud, 19 year old American “terrorist”New Mexica, Mexico borderWalker Evans, “Damaged”Norman Rockwell, Rosie the RiveterGeneral Petreaus slumps at Congressional hearingGas line infrastructure explosion, San FranciscoDeer in the headlightsUnemployment office, San Diego

As winter solstice approaches, America seems sinking ever deeper into a season of discontent.  The election over, the victorious Republicans and their Tea Party adjunct promise to bring the government to a halt if they don’t get their way all the time.  First in line is continuation of the Bush tax cuts for America’s richest few, and if that is not offered as alms by Obama, then no extensions of unemployment for the millions now jobless.  Obama, following his pattern of the last two years shows every sign of capitulating on this one.  He’ll say it’s a compromise and he’s reaching across the aisle, but he’s just getting the shit kicked out of himself.  Official unemployment hovers near 10% while the un-fudged real one is closer to 20%.

Far away in Afghanistan the war grinds on, gobbling up billions of dollars a month, while America’s infrastructure steadily collapses.  Despite the revelations of the Wikileak State Department cables, bluntly out-lining the massive corruption of our “allies” there and in Pakistan, we’ll continue painting a face on Obama’s chosen good-war pig.  Afterall, it is not only our allies who are wallowing in riches, it’s our own military-industrial-complex, and our privatized mercenaries and suppliers also feeding at the trough.  In America this lop-sided arrangement expresses itself in a Federal Budget which finds half of the national spending to be for an increasingly over-stretched imperial force, while calls are made to make deep cuts in programs for education, medical care and Social Security.  The military budget remains sacrosanct, even if we spend 5 times the rest of the world on armaments, and we’ve contrived to have only a small small percentage actually serve.

Out on the 24/7 political circus of pundits, opinion page scribes, talking heads, and bloggers, the air is shrill with accusations of treason, and we are treated to the spectacle of the truly unserious being accepted as potential presidential timber.  The timbre has descended to the level of reality TV shows and the likes of American Idol, where a roll of the dice might come up snake-eyes and you still get the prize.  De Tocqueville foresaw this some century and a half ago, predicting that our egalitarianism would drive us towards the lowest common denominator and in due time we’d elect an idiot for President.  We have done that already, and apparently are trying to scrape lower next time around.  Meanwhile our present President, while clearly intelligent, seems to lack some essential capacity to act as a leader, and appears to be led around by a hidden force of military-industrial-media-complex handlers who make sure he behaves just like a run-of-the-mill corporate Republican.  In two fast years he’s hugely disappointed most of his base of American “liberals” and been raw-meat for the hysteric Right.  And instead of responding in any meaningful manner he’s put on his best Rodney King imitation while being pummeled into the ground.

And so we exit the first decade of the new millennium, traumatized and scarred, the Neo-con dream of another “American Century” crucified on the realities of their own 8 years of hubristic practice, and instead of a triumphant America uber alles, we are an America in a surprised and hasty retreat, with all the bad elements of an empire in terminal decline – wealth concentrated to a sliver, the hoi polloi drunk on trivia and decadence, gone fat and stupid, as the ship of state swirls wildly in the foamy white water of the blind practice of the Free Market Economy which has stripped the country of its productive means in the name of fiscal profit for the controlling few.  Caligula is waiting in the wings with his horse.

Joseph Cornell, American Rabbit



  1. could not agree more with your comment, and assessment of Pres Obama, in response to this week’s column by Mr. Rich. I have been hesitant to voice the same opinion. Namely, I’m sure he is proud to be the first african-american president, but he ain’t about to be the black man at the “formal” dinner table to rock the boat. Such a shame, and huge disappointment personally, I had hopes for soooooo much more.

  2. If I wasn’t already depressed enough with my personal life (unemployed five years in Ohio, staring at a wife who’s thinking divorce, my parents and sister not talking, etc.) I now can add this poignant and on-point post to my list of things that make me feel like shit.



    • I am afraid, as a long-time observer of life, I have to say that socio-economic squeezes seem to up the ante on all kinds of “personal” life things. Divorces go up, families fall apart, people lapse into their weakest aspect, self-esteem crumbles, and people being people, they usually take it out on those closest to them instead of on the actual source of the problems. Nobody is perfect, and social stresses tend for most people to bring out the flaws. Just these days I got word from a nephew that his life is flying out of control, and I am sure it’s got to do with the 6 days a week, 12 hours a day job he has to keep afloat, not to mention whatever other pressures are around. Thing is most people don’t have the distance from their own situation to see clearly, and negative replicates negative.

      My useless advice: whatever happens, no matter how shitty, don’t let it get you down, find a real reason to smile and make those around you feel better, not worse. It’s hard to do sometimes, but it’s a lot better and more effective a way to deal with a lousy situation than panicking, getting grumpy and not nice to be around, or getting shit-faced on booze or drugs. Buddha Jon sez so. Just try it!

  3. Damn, Jon, you had to go there, huh? Fact is, I’m seeing this crop up more and more in writings about this President and his utter refusal to lead, challenge or fight. Maybe he should switch places with White House butler Von Everett, maybe Everett’s got more grit? Obama is mystifying, for sure. He’s an intelligent man, yes. A decent man, for sure. But I don’t understand how no lie or slander or insult hurled at him by the opposition isn’t enough for him to see the nature of the viciousness of these people. Instead, it’s progressive critics who receive his scorn. Interesting.

    It’s so sad. When has a President entered office with a super-majority awaiting him, and the nation, the world in crisis, a stage set for a President to become great, and done so little with it?

    Andrew Sullivan suggests that Obama is playing to the middle. By getting Repubs to stand beside him and vote for his tax plan, he’s getting voters in the middle to give him another look. The more he gets Repubs to back these initiatives, the more difficult it is for them and their minions to deride Obama as a non-US citizen, muslim alien President. Hell, maybe it’s working. Obama’s got Newt Gingrich supporting this deal. Sullivan goes on to say if this deal goes through, Mitch McConnell will in effect have handed Obama his second term. Who knows, and we’ll see. But what of Obama’s natural base? This thick wet soul-kiss he’s planted on the hyper-wealthy is hideously unpalatable to them, and rightly so. As is the way he so casually abandons his campaign promises, as if how could anyone expect him to hold true to those pledges. Where are his principles? I’m having a real tough time locating them. He may gain the middle, but what if his base stays home? Can an election be won without them?

    One thing for sure, it’s a whole lot harder for anyone to try and label Obama Socialist. He’s a good long way from his early days as a follower and associate of Saul Alinsky. Who was that young man back in the day, and where did he go?

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