A reporter within the White House press corps recently asked White House mouthpiece Jay Carney what President Obama's reaction was to the death of heroin addicted actor Philip Seymour Hoffman.
That question sent me into a fit of momentary rage and caused me to recall a fitting rant by actor Jeff Daniels in the HBO drama "The Newsroom".
In Daniels rant he answers a question in which someone asked a panel he was on why America is the greatest country in the world. He responded, in a cleaned up CliffsNotes version, that it isn't, but it could be.
He was absolutely correct.
In a country obsessed with the Kardashian family, so-called stars dancing on television, amateur singers trying to become the next so-called star, the next high tech gadget made in China and the next rip off of a movie made decades earlier we have lost what truly made America great.
Instead of worrying that our government borrows money at a rate that would make a gambling addict blush, we talk about how Lamar Odom and whatever his Kardashian wife's name is are having trouble.
Instead of talking about why 32 million Americans can't read and how that rate has not improved in a decade, (despite the federal government increasing education spending by more than $200 billion in the same time frame) we watch a show where an obese woman screams and degrades children for not learning a dance.
Instead of asking about the eight members of the armed forces who died in the past month, our press corps asks questions about an actor who was found dead with enough heroin in his possession to kill himself at least 40 times.
Instead of heading to the polls to vote for legislators, congressional members, senators, mayors and city council members; we log into a gossip site to vote in a poll about who we think is sleeping with whom.
We used to revere leaders like Martin Luther King, John F. Kennedy, Dwight Eisenhower, Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan. Nw we let our children idolize the Justin Biebers of the world.
We used to look up to women like Rosa Parks, Susan B. Anthony, Ayn Rand and Grace Hopper. Now our young ladies learn to model themselves after Miley Cyrus and Paris Hilton.
We used to get our information from people of superb skill like Walter Cronkite, David Brinkley, Helen Thomas, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Now our most trusted news anchor is a life-long comedian.
When journalists do uncover important stories like the NSA scandal, Benghazi and the IRS targeting of political groups, a majority of Americans turn the channel to watch TMZ or pregnant teenagers on MTV.
We used to build cars in Detroit, now we build debt to the point of bankruptcy. We used to send men on a rocket to touch the face of God, now we are preparing to send drones to watch over our own citizens.
We used to ask questions to the President about men like Sgt. Jacob Hess, Sgt. 1st Class William Lacey, Chief Warrant Officer Andrew McAdams, Sgt. Drew Scobie, Sgt. Daniel Lee, Sgt. Andrew Sipple and Chief Petty Officer Edward Balli – seven of the eight men killed in Afghanistan this year (one of the man's names has not been released yet). Now we ask questions about a drug addict, who basically killed himself, because he repeated some lines in some film that people said were some of the most acclaimed films in the history of ever.
When I hear that America is the greatest nation in the world I cringe, because I know it is not true and those are just a few of the many reasons why.
We used to do great things. We used to be the greatest country on earth.
Until we start paying attention to what matters, until we truly care about things that really affect us, we will have to settle for something equivalent to the bottom half of the BCS rankings.
Caleb Harris is a staff member of The Tribune. You may email him at