I know it's dangerous to think for yourself in America these days, but please take a couple of minutes to consider how far we've traveled from common sense these past few years.
Here's the short list. Nothing new, but a citizen's inventory of the state of the union is a worthwhile endeavor if only to maintain perspective.
Some Americans have perfected their sense of entitlement these past few years, perhaps taking their cue from our nation's greedy leaders. They think they have a Constitutional right to own a big TV, a new car and a swimming pool.
But - no need to actually earn the money to pay for them. The old American dream involving that pesky work ethic has been replaced with the new American scheme of suing our way to riches. Laziness is the new road to success, and laziness leads Americans to sitting on their big ole butts. And that leads to 'hey, cool!' a lawsuit against fast-food chains for making Americans eat so much that they grow big ole butts on which to sit in front of the big ole TV.
Meanwhile, the cost of gasoline is nearing $4 a gallon, but most Americans are too busy sitting on their big ole butts in front of the big ole TV to wonder why it costs so much to fill up the big ole SUV.
Some Americans think everyone else in the world should learn English. This is called Freedom to be Arrogant. It's a God-given right to live in an English-only country and not communicate with anyone outside the housing development. Our nation's leaders, once again, serve as role models of insularity.
At the Vatican, the pope is apparently not satisfied with the in-fighting going on in the Muslim world. Now he's trying to pit Christians against one another by announcing that non-Catholic churches - like the Protestants - aren't true churches and their members aren't getting into heaven. Pope says his church is better than your church! Grab your sword, everyone! We're off to the crusades! (p.s. For those who insist on missing the point: This is NOT Catholic bashing. This is POPE bashing. Two different things.)
Some school boards in America are requiring the teaching of creationism in science class because there are some folks who believe we were created seven days ago "¦ or whatever number they've got in their heads. By all means, let's indulge the ignorant.
We have an entire generation of teenagers wandering the wasteland of our malls with cell phones glued to their ears. Instead of talking to the cashier or the shopper they just ploughed into, they're talking to teenagers at the other end of the mall about being at the mall. Then they get annoyed because we're eavesdropping on their highly personal conversations. Hey, cell-phone head! We'd LOVE not to be eavesdropping on your conversation, so - please - go talk in the privacy of the rest room while you flush the toilet to drown yourself out.
We have a vice president who's declared he's not part of the executive branch - even while he claims executive privilege. As Keith Olbermann points out, we've now got four branches of government: the executive, the legislative, the judicial and the Dick.
There are three countries in the so-called Axis of Evil. Two of them have weapons of mass destruction. One does not. So we invaded which one?
And, finally, we have a president who has, once again, assured Americans that things are going really well in Iraq. That's the name of the Axis of Evil country we invaded - the one that doesn't have weapons of mass destruction. The one where 3,611 Americans and 655,000 Iraqi civilians have died, and millions of others have been wounded or displaced.
Yes, things are going really, really well. We should all be so proud of ourselves.
There are 554 days 'til Jan. 20, 2009.
Beth's column appears on Monday. Talk to her at 346-3147 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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