If you're looking for optimism as the world turns toward 2013, stay up late watching paid-for television explaining how to turn wrinkles into miracles. Past that, my own reservoir of uplift is a bit dry this year.
A famous and successful American optimist, Ronald Reagan, put his finger closer to the problem when he suggested there was little limit to what people could accomplish if government would get out of the way. As Barack Obama flies from Hawaii's beaches to Washington's cliff, there may be four or five liberals who've come to agree with the Gipper.
Indeed, a reality has become too obvious for the world's dazed inhabitants not to notice: The greatest threat to the upward arc of human progress is the collapse of public policy making. That is the biggest cliff of all.