Basically what we’re seeing is a downgrading of everything. Our credit rating isn’t AAA anymore, and neither are the movies. Been to the movies? Blam, bang, fwoosh: No subtlety. I can barely survive the Coming Attractions — it’s like someone’s repeatedly whapping me in the face with a pie pan. Where are the Bogarts of today? Where’s the great dialogue? And the popcorn just isn’t as good as it was back when they were allowed to pop it in really toxic forms of oil now no doubt prohibited by the F.D.A. or the E.P.A. or the N.R.C. or some other nanny-state outfit.

And did you notice, the novel is dead, and the newspaper is on life support, and even the mailers, the little inserts in the paper trying to get you excited about some big sale on toilet paper at the grocery store, don’t have quite the literary quality they used to have.

Restaurants are generally better these days but they’re too expensive for anyone except pre-kid young people still coasting on subsidies from Mom and Dad. The American automobile is better only because it couldn’t get much worse. I had a 1964 Cadillac convertible back in the day: That was a car. They don’t make ‘em like that anymore, nor could they, given the petroleum situation, also downgraded, along with the very atmosphere we breathe. I go outside I can TASTE the carbon dioxide, can’t you?

Welcome to Planet Downgrade.

Look in the mirror. Ain’t a pretty sight, is it? And going the wrong direction, is my guess.

Congress has an approval rating of 18 percent, which is roughly the approval rating for termites. Obama’s popularity has been in downgrade mode for two years; for his 50th birthday he got a stock market crash.

The good news for Obama is, an ebbing tide lowers all ships, and it’s not clear that there’s anyone the country as a whole would prefer in the job. That whole “Hope” thing has been downgraded to a different sentiment that might be described as Not Entirely Despairing.

To quote the GPS lady: Recalculating!