The seeds of the impending collapse of the American Empire were planted decades ago, in October 1973 to be precise, were watered under Ronald Reagan, fertilized under Bill Clinton, sprouted under George Bush II, and are now leafing out under Barack Obama. A perfect storm of domestic and international events is forming, and there is absolutely nothing that our ruling classes will, or even can, do about it.

Bradley Manning gave Julian Assange a hammer, but Edward Snowden used a sledgehammer. His revelations have proven beyond a reasonable doubt that our government has absolutely no respect for our liberties supposedly guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Dick Durbin intoned today on Meet the Press that because Americans use Facebook, that we no longer have any expectations of privacy and freedom from government surveillance, so what’s the big deal? Barack Obama has done a full 180 since he announced his candidacy in 2007 to his bumbling defense of National Security Agency surveillance in recent days.

The corporate media is doing its level best to defend its masters, but isn’t faring too well, as this clip from David Gregory’s  incompetent interview with Glenn Greenwald illustrates. Well, what did you expect? The corporate talking heads have proven their stupidity for so long that they’ve become the butt of jokes. Take a gander at Wolf Blitzer on Jeopardy three years ago. And these people are millionaires? The best and the brightest? Hell, LeBron James makes more sense, dog.

Today on ABC’s This Week, NSA head General Keith Alexander stumbled and bumbled even through George Stephanopolous’ softball questions. Snowden caused “significant and irreversible damage” to the United States. Well, he’s right, if you consider the United States to be our formerly secret security apparatus. The cat’s out of the bag, the bag-opener is drinking vodka in Moscow, and will no doubt soon be granted political asylum by a country with some principle of honor, such as Iceland, or by one that wants to stick a thumb in Obama’s eye, like Ecuador or Venezuela. Edward Snowden, according to the corporate media a nerd or a failure or a loser or all three, has outsmarted our rulers with a little help from Beijing and Moscow.

So the American people now know that not only is their government unwilling to help them in tough economic times caused by the very people on Wall Street who caused the same and bankrolled our elected leaders under the guise of “free speech” being equal to money as defined by our Supreme Court, but is also willing to ignore the Constitution and monitor all of their email and telephone communications in the name of national security.

This will not go over well.

Meanwhile, the most powerful rising economy in the world, the one responsible for a lot of that cheap Wal-Mart stock, China, is about to burst a bubble. Apparently, starting in 2008 the Chinese government and banking system has loaned out some $23 TRILLION in loans to various entities, including local governments, to keep them from going under. None of it has been repaid. Noooo, they’ve invested in property futures! Sound familiar? For the full story, go to this excellent World Socialist Web Site expose’.

When this blows, and it will, don’t expect the Chinese people to stand idly by and take it. Don’t expect the ripples not to build into a tsunami that hits Wall Street where it hurts them the most. And I haven’t even mentioned what’s happening in Europe. Perhaps the best symbolic example of the change in climate over there is the difference between Candidate Obama’s speech in Berlin in 2008 compared to his recent one just last week.

In 2008, over 200,000 enthusiastic Germans, mostly young, celebrated the New American Messiah. Last week, a hand-picked crowd of just 4000 listened to him and Chancellor Angela Merkel, separated by bulletproof glass, as well-described by yet another WSWS article. It’s well worth the read, especially the depiction of the failure of identity politics.  As the article says, “social class–not race, gender, or sexual orientation–is the driving force of politics.” When the Trotskyites are right, they’re right.

But wait! There’s more! As all FDL readers know, the Obama Administration is now arming Islamist rebels in Syria in an attempt to overthrow the secular regime of Bashar al-Assad. Obama appears uncertain about this policy. In fact, I can’t even tell what the policy actually IS. I’m not sure Obama knows, either. All I know is that the arms shipments were announced on a Friday afternoon by a White House flunky just a couple of days after Bill Clinton publicly warned Obama not to appear wussy. I do know that pressure to establish “no-fly zones,” the plain English translation of which is air attacks, is already mounting. So, in addition to Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Colombia, Libya, and a few other places I have no doubt forgotten to mention, the Imperial American Armed Forces are about to be engaged in yet another imperial adventure in yet another place where most of the people there don’t want American involvement.

And, all the while, simmering under the surface, is the growing poverty and inequality of wealth in America itself, being felt by hundreds of millions, and completely ignored or even celebrated by our so-called leaders. For the raw numbers, go here.

Throw in the student loan bubble the Obama Administration has deliberately inflated, which now has a 50% default rate, the re-emerging real estate bubble, the commercial rent and real estate bubbles, and an unreformed Wall Street going hellbent for leather for short term investor profits, and we have a perfect storm, folks. The American Empire is stretched, very, very thin. Its leaders aren’t that bright, and their financial masters, for the most part(yes, I mean YOU, Jamie Dimon, among others) aren’t, either. They are operating under the illusion that something like the French Revolution can’t happen here, or at least that they will be able to suppress it.

Fools. At this rate, they’ll lose the police and the military pretty quickly after the balloons start popping. I don’t know what we’ll get; I only know that it’s going to be very, very different, and far sooner than most think. Oh, they might drag it out a few more years. Obama will probably finish his term after the Republicans impeach him for all of the wrong reasons. Maybe that’s why Barbara Bush doesn’t want Jeb to be President Bush III.

Maybe she senses something. I certainly do.