• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal

Support Our Annual Fund Drive!fund-drive-progress-thermometer

We only shake our readers down two times a year, but when we ask we mean it. So, please, help as much as you can. All contributions are tax-deductible.
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

A Fork in the American Road

The United States of America recently came to a fork in the road of history. One path led to the fulfillment of the promise that America has made to the world: that it would champion freedom, justice, and opportunity by its own example. The other path led to slavery, violence, and futility. Did we, exergasiastically speaking, choose to soar to the stars, or instead embrace a plunge into the fetid depths of a swamp composed entirely of decaying lamprey excrement? Let’s just say this would be an excellent time to possess an aqualung.

I am neither a pessimist nor an optimist, weighing the evidence more or less as it comes. Thus I do not see the glass as half full or half empty, but rather twice the required size. The impending 40th anniversary of my birth is not an occasion I anticipate with dread or delight; 40 is as old as a rhinoceros gets, but a Galapagos land tortoise of the same age would still be a teenager, gerontologically speaking, driving around bashing mailboxes with a baseball bat and huffing glue out of paper bags. I admit that it might be better to be two 20-year-olds than one 40-year-old, particularly if one of them is a showgirl, but what I’m trying to say is you can’t go around being glum just because life is a mixed blessing. It sure beats being some rocks. But the America I grew up believing in has turned out to be a fairy story, like Santa Claus or the Easter Hedgehog .

The pisser is, we had the chance a few years ago. We could have turned this thing around. When a fanatical group of architecture critics attacked the World Trade Center and the Pentagon with passenger aircraft, the world reached out to America, and America reached out to its president. He took an immense, writhing dump on America and the world. But it wasn’t just this one man, this bumptious, ebriectious little sociopath, that ruined everything; it was his entire bureaucracy of fawning courtiers, the febrile, limp-wristed Democratic party, the fascistic Republican stormtroopers, the patrician 18th Century gents that opposed him in elections so obviously rigged one could have mistaken the process for professional wrestling ­ and most of all, it was a luciferous amalgamation of fear-crazed, gullible citizens and the corporate military/media complex filling their heads with likely stories. So here we are, the fork in the road now behind us, our feet treading the rocky path to perdition. What next?

In such a situation, hemmed in on all sides as one is by incompetence, greed, stupidity, and a kind of quantum tackiness that borders on schlock, one might well despair. After all, only ten percent of large ocean fish remain, and five percent of coral reefs, and we reached peak oil several years ago, and the only half-decent delicatessen in all of Los Angeles is in Glendale. There’s chaos in Afghanistan, Iraq has spiraled into civil war, and everybody in Iran is going around with one of those sniper rifle laser dots on the back of their heads. Plus, I’m almost 40. Where’s the good news that allows me to remain calm? Because this all sounds pessimistic. Hope is a matter of perspective.

The reason it’s so disappointing that America stalled out, at least for this disappointed American, is that the American narrative was always about the next great thing. We’ve gone down the wrong tine of the national roadfork before. Sure, we wiped out an entire continent of indigenous peoples, but those transcontinental railroads were a hell of a thing. Maybe we clung to slavery longer than some folks, but on the other hand, if we’d gone around emancipating everybody, would we have jazz today? The Great Depression begat the Great Society. I could go on, and if I was Ken Burns, I would. The nut of the essence of the meat of the matter is that from our most appalling failures as a nation, Americans have subsequently wrested our greatest achievements. We rebound with style from the most dreadful gaffes. So generally I’d be going around aggravating people by claiming that great times were ahead, and America was going to do something impressive and once again snatch up the torch of liberty, instead of what Bush has done, which is torch up the snatch of liberty. But we’re out of resources. As Gramps used to say, there’s nothing in the kitty but catshit.

So I don’t know what we do next. The disaster is still unfolding. There is an election coming up, the results of which will dictate whether America descends into a new crisis or continues descending into the present crisis. A new terrorist action has got to be well into the research and development phase. Debt, Christofascism, global warming, the privatization of fresh water, the ongoing rape of New Orleans, you name it, the pooch is in mid-screw, and there remains a myriad of days on George W. Bush’s watch, unless somebody dethrones him. It’s too early to start looking around for a suitably American rebound narrative. But it would be refreshing to come up with something plausible. Maybe we could legalize pot and become a vast, mellow land, like Amsterdam without the weird fruit beers. Maybe we could welcome immigrants to our shores and become known for that, or we could get national healthcare for all Americans, or we could start a pet grooming business. Something needs to be imagined, anyway, because it’s a long, dark path ahead, and for many of us, the next forks in this road will be a pitchfork, applied devil-fashion to the posterior lobes. I’m not that worried, though. Let the devils come! After five years of this administration, I’m thoroughly accustomed to getting a prick in the ass.

BEN TRIPP is an independent filmmaker and all-around swine. His book, Square In The Nuts, may be purchased here, with other outlets to follow: http://www.lulu.com/Squareinthenuts. His favorite animal is the rhinoceros. Mr. Tripp may be reached at credel@earthlink.net.

 

 

More articles by:
bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
Weekend Edition
October 11, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Becky Grant
CounterPunch in Peril?
Anthony DiMaggio
Fake News in Trump’s America
Andrew Levine
Trump’s End Days
Jeffrey St. Clair
High Plains Grifter: the Life and Crimes of George W. Bush
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Fighters Always Feared Trump Would be a Treacherous Ally
Paul Street
On the TrumpenLeft and False Equivalence
Dave Lindorff
Sure Trump is ‘Betraying the Kurds!’ But What’s New about That?
Rob Urie
Democrats Impeach Joe Biden, Fiddle as the Planet Burns
Sam Pizzigati
Inequality is Literally Killing Us
Jill Richardson
What Life on the Margins Feels Like
Mitchell Zimmerman
IMPOTUS: Droit de seigneur at Mar-a-Lago
Robert Hunziker
Methane SOS
Lawrence Davidson
Donald Trump, the Christian Warrior
William Hartung – Mandy Smithburger
The Pentagon is Pledging to Reform Itself, Again. It Won’t.
Richard Moser
The Empire Is Running Out of War Stories. Or is it? Will American Exceptionalism Rise Again?
Roger Harris
Why Trump is Facing Impeachment
Doug Lummis
Everything Going Wrong in Okinawa
Ramzy Baroud
Administrative Torture: Free Heba al-Labadi, a Jordanian Citizen in Israeli Prison
Christopher Ketcham
Ode to the Drums of Ginger Baker
W. T. Whitney
Upcoming Elections Represent Testing Time for Bolivia’s Socialist Government
Louis Proyect
Building Soldier Resistance Under the Shadows of Fascism
Mark Ashwill
Reflections on General Giap and the End of an Era in Vietnam
Gabriel Leão
Killing the Messengers: Rising Violence Against Journalists and Indigenous Leaders Defending the Amazon
Graham Peebles
Climate Change: All Talk No Action
Arthur Hoyle
The Meaning of Donald Trump
Dean Baker
Those Quaint Corporate Scandals in Japan
Laura Santina
Take Their Feet Off Our Necks
Julian Vigo
The New Workers’ Revolution is Afoot
Robert Koehler
The Rights of Nature
Dan Bacher
New Report Reveals Oil Waste in CA Aquifers
David Swanson
Trump’s Opponents Have Him Beat . . . When It Comes to Incompetence
Ben Debney
Liberals, Class and the Joker Complex
Brian Wakamo
Paying College Athletes: California Takes on the NCAA
Theo Wuest
Don’t Leave Equality to the Supreme Court
Jesse Jackson
To His Wealthy Donors, Trump is the Grifter
Mairead Maguire
Pathways to Peace
George Wuerthner
Logging Wild and Scenic River Corridors in the Name of Reducing Wildfires is a Really Bad Idea
Tracey L. Rogers
We Can’t Hug Away Injustice
Mike Garrity
How the Alliance for the Wild Rockies Stopped Trump From Bulldozing Cabinet-Yaak and Selkirk Grizzly Bears into Extinction
Lawrence Wittner
Why Are Americans So Confused About the Meaning of “Democratic Socialism”?
Nicky Reid
Climate Cthulhu: A Post-Modern Horror Story
Seth Sandronsky
A Sacramento King’s Ransom: Local Tax Dollars and the Owner’s Wealth
Susan Block
Cougar 2020?
David Yearsley
Mother Mallard’s Little Boy Grows Up
Elliot Sperber
Taking Out Columbus
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail