It is one thing to be an alarmist about potential problems, to which I readily plead guilty. But it is another thing to feel genuine fear for our future as a nation while the news and talk shows devote what seems to be nearly all their airtime to one wiener. Make that one Weiner, as in New York Congressman Anthony Weiner.
I've written about them before, and sure enough, the past week brought some pivotal developments not only for the present, but for the 2012 elections, as well.
Since I wrote in my column last week about the coming economic slowdown, things have only gotten worse. Now the stock market is stalling out, the Federal Reserve is sending out gloomy predictions concerning future economic growth, and Congress has yet to address the issue of the debt ceiling.
One would think that all this worrisome news would dominate the broadcast airwaves. Instead, we've gone down another one of those media roads in which an elected official acts up, tries to deny it, finally fesses up and is then the subject of some inquiry or investigation.
To be sure, Anthony Weiner is among the most obnoxious and arrogant persons ever to serve in the House of Representatives. His political opinions often are so inane as to strain credulity.
But with world markets slowing down, banks taking a beating and some experts predicting not only a double-dip recession but maybe even another Great Depression, I personally don't care about Anthony Weiner, or his underwear, or his tweets.
We've elected these clowns to office, and we get what we paid for -- half-witted egomaniacs. If America's economy is the whole hotdog stand -- or enchilada, or whatever food-based analogy one might make -- we now have proof positive that a gossip-hungry media would rather concentrate on one hot dog than on the entire stand. And that includes buns. (I couldn't' resist.)
How have we reached the point at which the groceries we buy are in smaller packages for the same or higher prices, the cost of gasoline can go up for no explainable reason and our most important national security web systems can be hacked, and yet no one seems to care or even to take notice?
The answer is the honoring of ignorance. Survey after survey shows us that a vast majority of Americans don't even know the answers to questions on a simple American civics test. Lady Gaga is of insatiable interest to countless people, while many of those same people can't identify the vice president.
Our culture holds up poorly educated celebrities as heroes and role models. For "experts" on political and social issues, we have people like the gossipy bunch on the TV show "The View." Boy, are we in trouble.
It seems like the whole country -- maybe the whole planet -- has gone mad. Go to any restaurant or other public place, and you will see people ignoring those seated with them. Instead, they are captivated as they stare into their handheld communication devices, and send and receive endless text messages. (Some even text people who are right beside them.) Is there no place in this world for picking up the phone and talking, or -- heaven forbid -- for taking out a pen and paper and writing a note?
Even a search for entertainment is a nightmare. A quick view of the choices of films for summer entertainment reveals a string of flicks featuring weird creatures with one eye or a horn. At the other end of this spectrum is a movie like "The Tree of Life." It's nothing but three hours of boring pseudo-intellectualism. (Come to think of it, this film could serve as a metaphor for the U.S. economy: a series of meaningless information with no plot resolution.)
If America was suffering a malaise under Jimmy Carter, we are close to being comatose under the current administration.
But Barack Obama can't be blamed for everything. The man must deal with more revolutions and conflicts around the globe than he can count. He came into office with the economy teetering on historic disaster.
His problem is that he can't credibly produce any tangible evidence that he has taken any executive action that has even slightly improved anything.
But as we face everything from cyber-attacks to a seemingly perpetual economic slowdown, the band plays on with "news" like "Weinergate."
No one wants to tell us just how bad things are. Or how much worse they might become.