The Republicans have seized control of the discourse, as was inevitable. And Obama keeps cringing and ducking. The flip on drilling, when he could have made a strong stand backed by plenty of expert evidence, and taken the spotlight off the whole "race card" canard, was just plain weakness, and now he's set up to be attacked for "standing for nothing," with some actual justification this time, unlike the last two Dem presidential candidates. It's pretty clear now that the only thing Obama will stand up against is his own base and absent black fathers. For everyone else, he's an Uncle Tom. I despise him more each day, despise the stupidity of the Democrats for nominating him, yet every day McCain opens his mouth and demonstrates he is nothing more than a tool of the right wing machine, it becomes more vital that the gutless, conniving prick wins.
I am beginning to think this country has only about a decade of true greatness left. After that the slide we are on will become steeper and steeper, and in twenty or thirty years people will look back to the 1990s and think, "What the fuck happened?" You can look at almost every other empire in the history of the world and the signal event of its demise was a war. I can't imagine the war that could break this country, but I can imagine the country breaking itself, through apathy and complacency. We are going to collapse from within, like the Soviet Union, but unlike the Soviets, it isn't our system that's failing us -- we are failing our system.
Solzhenitsyn died. Great writer (I'll take Orwell over him because, for better or worse, Orwell, with the example of his own prose, the essay "Politics and The English Language," and a big assist from Andy White, changed the English language, whereas I'm unaware of Solzhenitsyn changing Russian in the same way), but an oddball of a human being. I remember reading his Harvard lecture and thinking, "This guy is a fucking crank, and I've been admiring him for all these years." But a non-crank couldn't have filled thousands of pages with prose of scarcely concealed fury and still made himself readable. Solzhenitsyn did that. He was a crank with a gift for story telling, and an understanding of how to make people listen to him. In his old age, he seems to have lost control of his anger to the point where he didn't care so much if people listened to him anymore. I haven't read his First Circle yet, maybe I should. I first read Gulag in, I think, my teens, and for years afterwards re-read it every year to remind myself how shitty and dangerous human beings are. Nowadays I'm such a crank myself I don't need the reminder.