"These are the times that try men’s souls." – Thomas Paine’s The Crisis

Going ‘from bad to worse’ is a much overused expression.  For those who have not entirely given up on the 24-7 Media coverage of all the nasty things going on lately, some have begun developing traumatic associations and now avoid news like the plague,  how many disasters does it take . . . . let me count them.

The Gulf is filling with what looks like melted chocolate and even mighty BP is clueless how to stop it, having started on live video feed, no less, it’s latest, Top Kill (think: life as comic book) solution to the month-old spewing of oil into the pristine Carribean waters and beyond, involving something with old sneakers, tennis balls, cement, what have you.  Lousiana’s bayou and wetlands country is smothered in what we only wish was butterscotch syrup, some twelve miles in now.

The Dow closed Wednesday below 10,000 for the first time since Feb 8, bringing back the nightmare of the Winter of 2008-9 and it’s roller coaster plunge that scared the daylights out of everybody.  As we know, if the stock market Limbo starts again, it can go lower . . . . well, there’s always passbook savings accounts paying 1%; some consolation for those living on fixed incomes.

Europe’s momentarily mighty Euro is no more, suggesting cheap vacations this Summer, if certain Icelandic volcanoes do not explode again.  Greece has to face up to the fact that they cannot all retire at age 53 while the rest of the world frantically tries to balance its counter-weighted, and grossly overdrawn checkbook.  The rest of Europe has to grow up and realize that the Cold War is over, the US will not under-write their defense bills for another 50 years and they cannot take 6-week vacations all Summer while we labor away here and, oh yes, that they are spending way more than they are taking in.

The Madman of North Korea is at it again, making this time a spectacular ploy for attention to his starving Hermit Kingdom by torpedoing a South Korean ship, rattling sabers and doing their usual Death Dance, only this time with missiles, nukes, and a true NutCase at the helm.  Remember, an insane ruler with nukes has absolutely nothing to lose by using them.

We continue wars in Iraq and Afganistan, the former nearly forgotten by our Media lately unless some lunatic blows himself and a bunch of innocent strangers to Kingdom Come, while the latter drowns in corruption in a real mess where even the Government is afraid to tread in most areas of its own country and the most important thing to their Tribesman, who truly live in the Middle Ages, is who gets to kill who.  Iran continues its defiance and is hard at work on building nukes in hardened, below ground locations, impervious to attack – but, soon, Israel will have no choice.

Mexico, Columbia and now Jamaica, are at war with (and, functionally, run by) Druglords and that has already spilled over the US Border.  Haiti is an earthquake ravaged wreck where all that money poured in but people still live in tents and stinking hovels like ferrets.

And, here in the good old US of A, we argue about who would and would not have voted for or against the 1964 Civil Rights Bill, while our infrastructure crumbles, we dawdle endlessly on developing the alternative energies necessary to break our oil addiction, and Texas re-writes textbooks for the same reason that a dog licks certain private areas – because it can.  And, oh yes, lest we forget, Social Security, Medicare and most other social programs some of us hope to depend on if we live long enough are completely unsustainable by anybody’s projections.

Swine Flu, or H1N1, or whatever the current politically correct name, is off the front pages today, but not gone and, if and when it reappears, it will be far deadlier than last time.

In Somalia, real live 21st Century Pirates hijack regularly enormous ships and for their trouble, then receive gigantic payoffs to give those (totally unarmed, mind you) ships back, but, hey, we just convicted one in US Federal Court, so all is not lost!

Unemployment rages and pity the poor twenty-something who graduates this month or next, be it with a Bachelors, Masters, Law or almost any other degree, ‘cause there just ain’t no jobs, and those higher education lenders are not in a waiting mood, expecting payments real soon from the newly unemployed generation.

Wall Street treats America’s savings and retirement plans like a drunk on a bus to Vegas, comp’d for free drinks for a wild gambling weekend that he will never even remember, and Congress, drowning in its own unpopularity and bought and paid for by the giant corporate interests, may actually pass a limp financial regulation bill of prodigious size which will accomplish nothing to stop the hemorrhaging, or the credit card abuses, or the outright gambling with other people’s money in leveraged multiples that nobody could possibly repay.

All I can say is – Keep Your Powder Dry, on this eve of the Memorial Day Weekend – it is going to be one long, hot Summer this time.