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PREVIEW Roadrunner, Views and Visions: Prints of the American West, 1820-1970, at the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth. their way to a new system. Echoing Walter Kirn’s recent criticisms in Lost in the Meritocracy, Hedges reserves his sharpest barbs for how the elites spend “their entire lives in a state of total selfdelusion and perpetual childhood,” protected from the travails that the rest of us face. Hedges knows well that those who “grasp the hollowness of celebrity culture” will be condemned for being too pessimistic. Barbara Ehrenreich has recently written, in Bright-sided, about the pervasiveness of false optimism, which prevents realistic assessment of our personal and public dilemmas. Hedges provides pessimism in large doses. The credibility of his claims may be gauged by the degree of change in this, the first year of our Era of Hope. Most people’s income continues to erode. Inflation and unemployment are severely understated. Ehrenreich and Hedges criticize “positive psychologists” for preaching optimism to laid-off workers and university students. The Washington bureaucracies echo various forms of “false enthusiasms.” Hedges quotes Ralph Nader on the financial bailout: “Bankrupt corporate capitalism is on its way to bankrupting the socialism that is trying to save it.” Hedges is the rare voice proclaiming the accelerating moral death of our empire. We desperately need to hear what he has to say. Anis Shivani is a fiction writer, poet and critic in Houston. His latest collection of short stories is Anatolia and Other Stories, Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books. POETRY I SUSAN VAN HAITSMA A kid, dressed in black His bedroll neatly packed Sat just behind the driver Sewing Mending a black leather glove with no fingers Using coarse, white thread A repair, he said For his grandchildren Because they would consider it an heirloom And he wanted it to last He didn’t know where he’d spend the night But his long term plans: sewn tight. SUSAN VAN HAITSMA is a writer, artist and house cleaner living in Austin. She blogs on the subject of active nonviolence, and her commentary has been published on Common Dreams, Counterpunch and The Austin American-Statesman. ALAN POGUE Creating Change: Austin in the ’70s Nov. 14 Dec. 12, 2009 South Austin Museum of Popular Culture Thursday through Sunday, 1 6 p.m. More Info: 440-8318 or [email protected] NOVEMBER 27, 2009 TEXASOBSERVER.ORG 29