We all know that the US Republican Party, already dragged to the outer reaches of the political spectrum under Dubya, has now drifted off into the ether. It currently exists in the same kind of limbo in which the profoundly mentally ill reside: only occasionally enjoying periods of lucidity before slipping back into paranoia and madness.
To put it simply, they no longer occupy the same reality as most people. Consequently, their proclamations become ever more weird and extreme and ironically they become more and more like the very 'extremists' over whom they so obsess.
This is illustrated by the reactions of senior Republicans to the Wikileaks saga - calling for executions and for the outfit themselves to be 'hunted' like Osama Bin Laden. This is eerily reminiscent of the treatment given to 'subversives' in autocratic regimes.
What kind of environment allows this kind of political culture to thrive? There is, of course, the media to think about - specifically the malign influence of Fox News, a bile-filled, intensely political outfit that make the Daily Express look like a bastion of reasoned impartiality.
It is an intensely partisan organisation, relentlessly churning out propaganda for the political hard right. Its startling recent highlights include portraying the the recent British student protests as a rally in support of spending cuts and claiming that free health care in the UK is responsible for producing Muslim extremists.
The cause of the Republicans (and, of course the Tea Party) is also furthered by numerous very well-funded think-tanks and supposedly grassroots organisations (the Heritage Foundation, FreedomWorks) that basically promote variations on the same theme - low taxation, low regulations, aggressive foreign policy.
All of this poses an obvious problem not just inside, but also outside the US. For in the very near future it is entirely possible that the nations of the world will be at the mercy of ideologues who are content to lump together a diverse range of detractors of American policy, or those who express liberal views, as 'enemies' of the United States.
They will also suffer the consequences of people unwilling to accept basic facts, or even to listen to reasoned argument. Global warming is therefore a 'marxist conspiracy'; the UN some kind of evil plan to subvert the free peoples of America. International co-operation is therefore always a bad thing.
To use a term all-so familiar to these ideologues, God help us.