"Don't be cross, uncle!" said the nephew.
"What else can I be," returned the uncle, "when I live in such a world of fools as this?"
Dickens, A Christmas Carol
I wouldn’t offer Scrooge — the early, unrepentant one — as a model, but in this exchange with his nephew Fred, he sums up the present situation rather well: we’re surrounded by fools.
Recently a friend forwarded a video entitled "Send in the Clowns," containing clips of famous comedians. It’s funny and nostalgic, but the title also is a perfect description of contemporary politics.
We have a glut of guns, which are available, thanks to a lack of background checks, to any nut who wants to work out his maladjustment in violence. Do we consult with sensible voices? No! We send in the clowns: Wayne La Pierre and his Senatorial stooges, four of whom pretend to be Democrats. The Senate as an institution qualifies as a clown act. It has allowed a procedural device, the filibuster, to be converted into the requirement of sixty votes to pass any bill, thus handing the minority a painless method of exercising a veto. The result is that background checks on gun purchases, supported by an overwhelming majority of citizens, are rejected. That would be foolish enough at any time, but in the aftermath of Newtown, it is difficult to believe and impossible to accept.
One of the louder fools, Alex Jones, did his bit to bury the lesson of Newtown. He did so by adding that crime to his long list of imaginary federal-government conspiracies:  in the strange world he inhabits, the "illegitimate criminal government . . . probably staged this event." He now has done the same for the Boston Marathon bombing: it is a "false flag" operation, one perpetrated by the government, apparently using Navy Seals as bombers. His theory is that the government staged the killings so that it could confiscate guns. Jones argues that we "need guns to protect ourselves from criminals, crazy people and this corrupt foreign occupation government." (The last apparently refers to his notion that the government is an arm of "offshore New World Order bankers," and that "globalists are trying to conquer us.") His reference to crazy people is deeply ironic; watching him scream and threaten  would convince any viewer that he is the last person on earth who should have access to firearms.
Another tribe huddled around its campfire, fearing the next attack of the feds, goes by the clan name Tenther. They demand that states nullify federal laws, often in aid of guns, but also to prevent health care. Like so many of the foolish, they live in a partly imaginary past, any real aspect of which vanished in the 1860s.
Millions watch Fox "News" and follow its inane lead. Glenn Beck was the perfect Fox pundit, having described himself as a rodeo clown.
The President at times joins the ranks of the foolish. His attempts to compromise with the House GOP fall in that category: usually they fail and when they succeed he gives away too much. It’s fun to imagine Lyndon Johnson dealing with the nitwits in the House or Harry Truman running against the do-nothing Congress.
Americans often take matters a step further by being fatuous, i.e., foolishly proud, in their belief in our exceptionalism. An example is pretending that we have the best health care system, unlike the (shudder) socialist countries. A glance at any study on cost, life expectancy or infant mortality would show otherwise. Despite the increasing concentration of wealth, and therefore power, at the top, we also pride ourselves on being champions of democracy.
43. A summary is here: http://mediamatters.org/print/blog/2013/04/16/alex-jones-and-his-enablers/193647. I discussed his fantasies in my post of May 30, 2010.
45. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmSH5MREHdw ; see, especially, the diatribe beginning at 7:59.