Oh yeah, it is that bad.
You see, the problem we keep coming across, the thing that is ruining us, is that we've lost the ends in our quest for the means.
Individually, we can be smart, but as a nation, we're incapable of rational thought.
I actually used to be religious. I went to church and everything. I've since recovered.
One of the things that helped open my eyes was an interaction I had with many of my fellows on Sundays. You see, I read that little thing in Matthew where some guy is talking to Jesus, and he complains about how he can't represent this great new religious movement because he doesn't have anything nice to wear. Jesus just shakes his head and points at some nearby wildflowers and says, "Hey, look at those, some of the most humble of God's creations, and see how beautiful they are. How could anything you wear compare to that? Don't worry about it dude."
Foolish me, I took that one to heart.
If you want to have some fun, show up for church wearing denim shorts and a t-shirt.
When they recover from shock and saunter up to you, asking you if everything is ok and offering to help you out with money for clothes if that is the problem, and you point out that you think dressing up is kind of silly and childish, and they balk and tell you that dressing up is how you show "respect" for God (you know, the omnipotent and omnescient creator of the entire universe), and you point to their own holy scriptures and say, "Hey, I'm sorry to break it to you dude but God specifically disagrees with you," well, the look on their face is just about as much fun as you can have in a church.
When I did it, I got a lot of fun answers. My favorites were, "Oh, he was just talking to that one guy, that wasn't meant as a rule for everyone," and "well, societal norms change and now a days dressing up is whats considered respectful."
And thats when my bullshit alarm went into critical alert mode.
Now I look back and I see it as one of many symptoms for what has gone so horribly wrong in this country. Its everywhere around us, it permeates the very air we breathe, the things we read, the movies, the television. It shows its head as half-starved women with eating disorders on magazine covers. It drives people to favor neatly cut exotic grass lawns that require constant watering over native xeriscaped lawns that don't require any water at all. It makes people buy perfect looking GM produce that has no flavor at all, or eat big steaks so laden with hormones that they've grown a new set of secondary sex characteristics by the time the desert tray comes around.
It drives us to fight a war on terror instead of trying to stop terrorism.
What they told me, I'll never forget. "It doesn't matter what you do, as long as you look good doing it."
Here's the now classic quote from an unnamed Bush administration offical that basically sums up this attitude:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
(from NYT Magazine
And there it is, in black and white. The irony is thick enough that if you exposed it to oxygen it would rust in seconds.
The conservatives, those paragons of practicality, the dire enemies of "hippies" who ground themselves in "realism" have turned over all of their power to a bunch of people whose intellectual precursors were the "if it feels good do it" post-modern subjectivists they always tell us they hate. The hippies have had their revenge.