The scene bannered across the top of this blog is a cropped version of Destruction, the forth painting from Thomas Cole's Course Of Empire series. Cole's painting is given a nice shout-out in today's Times. Which is nice. The paintings trace the evolution of an empire from comfortable savage indolence to a pretentious Greek-columned apex which - of course - gets flooded by looting barbarians reducing the proud empire to attractive archaeological ruins.
It seems Americans don't really like to admit our empire exists, far from showing any sort of pride about it. Maybe it's because we're a lazy, freedom-loving people and empire, well, empire gets in the way of all of our nice things. But when the truth of our empire peeks its ugly little head up and we see it, we get really nervous. We know it will fall. So we are at once really nervous about it, and can't stop looking, can't stop wondering what will happen when the congress falls, when the states finally sunder.