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The Rap on God

As U.S. initial jobless claims rise unexpectedly, Hurricane Irene is headed for New York City. Meanwhile business is so bad at Martha's Vineyard that people are having "textured" feelings about President Obama.

This week, with the jobless rate stuck above 9 percent and the president’s nationwide approval rating at its lowest level, the Vineyard’s broad allegiance shows cracks, leaving some islanders with a more textured, even tormented feeling about the president.

“I just have to say I feel really uncomfortable, because I love loving him,’’ said Leslie Pearlson, a real estate broker on the island ...

At the core of islanders’ misgivings is the shaky local economy. Although the Vineyard is sometimes depicted as a playground for the rich and famous, the numbers tell another side of the story.

Empty storefronts dot main streets in Vineyard Haven, Edgartown, and elsewhere. According to the island’s Chamber of Commerce, at least one member of nearly every Vineyard household is dependent on summer business, which softened during the recession and still has not recovered.

If the playground for the rich and famous is feeling a little like Tobacco Road, it has plenty of company. For some reason nothing seems to work. The Washington Monument is cracked, and it seems portentous. A survey done by Pew reports 79% of the population believe the country is headed in the wrong direction. A Gallup poll taken over the same period concludes 88% of the population are dissatisfied with the state of affairs. Reuters has 73% of those polled believing the same things.

Like the Joker said, "why so serious?" Richard Posner believes the underlying reason is that America is in a Depression, stuck in a place where the only way forward is down. People aren't recovering. They're doomed and most of them know it, hence the polls.