EVER GET THE FEELING this country is going to hell in a hand basket? I’m not just talking about Congress, either.

Or Miley Cyrus.

I speak of ordinary folks — well, I should say they appear to be like you and me until they reveal they really aren’t. They think the rules don’t apply to them. Perhaps they are criminally stupid. They are sociopaths. Or even worse, psychopaths.

The current playlist in my mind features a Lennon and McCartney tune: “I read the news today, oh boy.”

Oh boy is right. If only what I have been reading were as goofy as “4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire.”

Instead, it is motorcyclists, gathered to ride in an illegal rally, swarming around the car of a man out on a drive with his wife and child. When one motorcycle is “clipped,” the bikers chase the man down, break a window in his car, then beat him up. The whole thing is captured on video, which goes viral on the Internet.

There’s the family of a homicide victim brawling with the friends of the killer (who pleaded guilty to manslaughter) outside a courthouse. On the same day in Maine, a woman running down a Portland street in her bare feet, begging her baby’s daddy to tell her what happened to their missing daughter.

Shall I continue? A mother and daughter allegedly arguing in a cemetery by ramming their vehicles, knocking over headstones in the process. A young woman, driving without a license, charged with killing two cyclists and injuring two more. And how about the middle-age woman who is not only alleged to have provided the driver drugs that morning but then allowed her to drive a car?

In August, a man allegedly broke into a home in Waterville, knocked spices and pickles to the floor, then lathered himself up with soap and presented himself to the lady of the house.

One more, fresh from USA Today: “A Florida woman had posted on Facebook that her husband missed a date with her and she ‘felt like ripping his face off’ before he killed her and posted a picture of her corpse online, according to police documents.'”

All-righty, then.

I have many theories about the current climate of craziness in this country. But I think Michael Cyr, treasurer of the cemetery association in Monmouth, where “Dueling Autos” played out, has summed it up quite succinctly. He told this newspaper, “(Whether) it was insanity, drunkenness or what, I don’t know.”

I don’t know, either, but that doesn’t stop me from guessing. A good start would be with our fearless leaders, who have let thousands of jobs leave the country, allowed the gap between rich and poor to grow ever wider, and now have shut down much of the federal government, including national parks and Head Start programs.

The New York Times quoted a woman who went to an Internal Revenue Service office in Los Angeles, only to find it closed. “This is crazy. I don’t like it. It’s been over a year, and I haven’t gotten my refund,” (Sheila) Caraway said, explaining that she had not followed the recent political struggles in Washington. “I think everyone is crazy right now.”

Well, Ms. Caraway, I have been following this story, and I agree.

Crazy — and crazy-making. What do you do when you have no job, no prospects, and you live with your parents (like George Costanza in “Seinfeld”)? Chances are, you act like a juvenile delinquent — even if you’re 35 and have three kids.

If you watch too many out-of-control celebrities, like Miss Cyrus, and reality TV shows in which people do ridiculous and/or immoral things to earn money or just make a spectacle of themselves, you might think it’s OK to, say, go driving around with your friends and shoot to kill the first person you see.

Maybe you’ve done it so many times in the virtual world of a video game, you don’t even care what you’re doing and couldn’t stop yourself if you did.

Hey, isn’t that the basic definition of a psychopath? No wonder there are so many of them running around, wreaking havoc. Throw some drugs in, add a dash of gang initiation requirements — it’s all bad.

If you can’t respect your leaders, if you have no hope of ever achieving the American dream, if your city’s going bankrupt and the police only respond to the direst emergencies, if your schools were crowded and underfunded and you never really learned to read — yes, I would say you are riding Miss Elvira Gulch’s bicycle (with its two baskets) straight into the netherworld.

Just don’t take me with you.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected]

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