Exactly when America crossed the line, I can't precisely determine. But two thematic nightmares currently haunt our country. The first involves "goodness" with punishment for those failing to live up to high standards. Guantanamo Bay is the modern day stockade complete with dunking pole.
Did I mention those setting the rules get a free pass? Yes, widespread corruption and illegal behavior by business or governmental leaders results in little more than a hand slap. The Hewlett Packard spying case went from major felonies to misdemeanors, even no charges whatsoever for the Board President. Will an investigation occur for the politically connected firm that sold defective pumps to the Army Corps of Engineers to save New Orleans from a future drowning? The Carlyle Group's LifeCare Hospitals got a free pass in the White House Lessons Learned report despite having the highest patient death total post Katrina.
This leads to the second major specter, the pursuit of rewards at any cost. America worships free markets and profit, well, the more the better. Wall Street investment firms continue to rake in record earnings, big oil not far behind. Money from the modern day robber barons flows to elected officials who in turn, enact policy or legislation favorable to their donors. One only need watch the timing of the AIPAC policy meeting and Congress' dropping any constraints to President Bush's unleashing the dogs of war on Iran.
Of course the two nightmares haunt America simulataneously...