America today is arguably a far less civilized land, and even more neurotic, than the Germany of the 1930s. We live in places so extreme in ugliness, squalor, and dysfunction that just going to the store leaves a sentient American reeling in angst and anomie. Our popular culture would embarrass a race of hebephrenics. We think that neck tattoos are cool. A lot of our pop music is overtly homicidal. Our richest citizens have managed to define a new banality of evil. Our middle classes are subject to humiliations so baroque that sadomasochism even fails to encompass the finer points. And we don't even need help from other nations to run our own economic affairs into the ground -- we're digging our national grave with a kind of antic glee, complete with all the lurid stagecraft that Las Vegas, Hollywood, and Madison Avenue can muster. . . .
Meanwhile, the evil plume of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico grows ever-larger by the hour and every living thing in that quarter of the sea faces slow death. That's our memorial-in-the-making to ourselves. I feel sorry for Barack Obama in this situation. Dmitry Orlov is right: this is our Chernobyl. This is the cherry-on-top of all our feckless foolishness. Memorial Day this year is the welcome mat to our hard time. We'll be lucky if some honorable as-yet-unknown colonel in the wadis of Afghanistan comes home to overthrow president Glenn Beck, or whichever lethal moron ends up in power after 2012. We'll be a very different America then, with no going back.And you think I'm cynical and pessimistic!