Sometimes things happen that take us by complete surprise, but shouldn’t have:

The Jersey Shore: When the runaway entertainment sensation of the year is a celebration of vulgarity, casual cruelty and blissful ignorance, we have reached a crossroads: do we pursue the crass and talent-free, or try to get back on the high road? When we started down this road of lowest common denominator television, so-called Reality Programming (created only so producers wouldn’t have to “waste” money on expensive acting talent and gifted writers and directors), it was only a matter of time before our children assumed that crude stupidity is a viable, desirable option.

The Tea Party: When 10 second sound bites replaced reading, thinking, paying attention to informed debates on important issues and forming our political opinions accordingly, did it not follow that the dumbest and most mentally lazy among us would consider themselves modern Thomas Jeffersons? Get used to inarticulate anger masquerading as policy. Lewis Carroll would be proud of the these Mad Hatters and their schizoid tea party.

Extreme Christianity: Taking a cue from unschooled Muslim rabble rousers, America’s fastest growing religion is not a religion at all, but a political movement that completely refutes the message of Jesus Christ, putting words in his mouth that he never said and fusing them with half baked jingoist political ideas, thus creating a hybrid creed called Hatriotism. (See “Tea Party,” above.)

The Financial Meltdown if 2008: Once CEOs discarded the old rule of thumb that they earn 20 to 30 times what their average workers earned and decided they were worth 400 times their average employees’ salaries while demanding huge bonuses and Golden Parachute clauses paying them a kings ransom whether they ran their companies well or straight into the ground, as sure as day follows night the focus came off producing high-quality products and services and on to stealing as much money as humanly possible by any means at their disposal. When their crimes dragged the entire world’s economy into the toilet, their wealth increased as everyone else’s decreased.

High Fructose Corn Syrup: That super sweet concoction knows as “sugar’s sugar” has found its way into thousands and thousands of processed food products, even salad dressings, sending medical science searching for a stronger term than “obese” to describe the phenomenon of the fattening up of America. Hence the term “morbidly obese.” Thanks, Giant Agribusiness! You have succeeded where mere farmers have failed, what with their antiquated obsession with producing nutritious, wholesome food.

Hessians: With America’s descent from a Republic to a world-straddling Empire, our all-volunteer army had proved inadequate to the task of conquering the entire world, prompting the Pentagon to hire high-priced mercenaries to flesh out the ranks of our military might. Professional soldiers from many different nations whose only loyalty is to the highest bidder, they are cynically called “contractors” and are subject to no law; domestic, military, foreign or international. They have proved themselves invaluable for spreading terror among occupied nations with wanton murder sprees and routine violations of the Geneva Convention. There are some jobs deemed too low for even the CIA (hard as that is to comprehend given their track record). Enter the private contractors, who come in very handy for performing their “super-dirty work,” ensuring the CIA’s inclusion in the critical striking-numb-helpless-fear-into-hearts department and cementing their place in history alongside the legendary Gestapo, KGB and NKVD. Thank you, Hessians!

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