In bang-for-the-buck practical terms, Washington's national security state should be viewed as a remarkable failure. And yet, in faith-based terms, it couldn't be a greater success. Its false gods are largely accepted by acclamation and regularly worshiped in Washington and beyond.
What does it say about us, that we have no problem with tens of thousands of people being killed by guns, yet a terrorist act that kills hundreds or even several thousand justifies Orwellian surveillance?
Today, for instance, Facebook, Google, Amazon, eBay and any number of other online enterprises, as well as companies you never heard of, all know more about you than should be possible in any free society.
With all due warnings about nostalgia about a golden age of American democracy that never existed, here are four especially disturbing and depressing signs that our political institutions are doing a worse and worse job of reflecting meaningful the interests of "We, The People."
Garry Wills, professor of American history and author of Bomb Power, says that the atomic and nuclear bomb remade the country into a National Security State fostering perpetual emergency, secrecy and war.
The real crimes of the last 40 years didn't fit into the box that Woodward and Bernstein and the Watergate scandal helped to create. In the end, the real exceptionalism of Richard Nixon was merely that he was dumb enough to get caught. The rest of them all got away with it.