I am going to avoid adjectival overkill in listing and explaining my thoughts of these terrible times at home and abroad. But adjectives there must be.

The descent spiral we are in has come at a time when I have turned the corner into another year this month.

Accompanying the self-assessment that comes with a birthday is the assessment of nothing less than the world we live in. My general satisfaction with my life–even after giving effect to my mistakes and the “slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”–is in contrast to what has been and is happening in our world that has produced a near-death of the spirit and of joy in many of us.

I start with process. With war, civil unrest, the injustice of those who would destroy our country walking free, disease, the spectacle of electeds polluting the institutions to which they were elected, I arise each morning simply overcome by the day’s news.

It is hard to recover.  Part of my process is newspapers, online news and televison,  each with reporters and commentators who are either mostly good or perpetually foul.

The good ones stand out. Among them are Clarissa Ward, chief international correspondent of CNN, born of a British father and an American mother, and educated at British boarding schools and at Yale. Her reporting from Ukraine is simply stunning in its clarity and fluidity under hellish circumstances and in the middle of the night.

Then there’s Tucker Carlson. Ward, of course, is a reporter, something Carlson does not claim to be.  He’s a distorter with the highest rated program on cable. He has a faux insouciance, often asking questions which he then answers. He has  a peanut gallery of “guests,” really foils, asking them leading questions and basking in the glow of the “answers.”  A big success and a disaster.

The war has monopolized cable, online and network news for the past month. The depiction of the destruction and agony of the war is so disturbing that I can’t watch.

If the war depresses me, the spectacle of  diseased American institutions angers and humiliates me.

A public official its really two different things: first, a person; second, an institution,  say a legislator, executive or a judge. Today it seems that  most of our public officials act as persons with no institutional bearings.

This phenomenon is illustrated by the imbroglio featuring Justice Clarence Thomas and his wife Virginia. Virginia was actively involved in Trump’s attempt to overthrow the government on January 6 while Justice Thomas has participated in a Supreme Court case with direct bearing on January 6.

As an institution, a Justice of the Supreme Court,  because of his wife’s involvement,  he should have recused himself in the Trump subpoena case in which he was the sole dissenter from the Court’s approval of the subpoena. Simply tossing aside his institutional obligation and acting as a person, the Mr. of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas, he did not.

Similarly, abjuring the Senate’s institutional role to give “advice and consent” on presidential nominees to the federal judiciary, four Republican senators who want to be elected President in 2024 used hearings on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s nomination to the Supreme Court to fuel their personal political campaigns. It didn’t work. Judge Jackson will be confirmed and the senators got nowhere.

And going along with the “me, me, me” example of politicians here and in Moscow, we have the disgraceful behavior of actor Will Smith assaulting comedian Chris Rock on live international television at the academy awards. Since Putin’s evil is being medicalized by some, why can’t Will Smith’s criminal slap be attributed to his excuse that he “acted emotionally” when his wife  was “insulted” by a comedian’s lame joke?

I have no idea what the academy’s board will do with Smith’s outrage. I believe that one consequence of the slap will be at least a million more votes for Republicans in the coming election.

Viewing the terrible things happening at home and abroad did not make for a happy birthday.