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Campaign burn-out

October 27, 2012

[J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense on Broad View, KBZZ 1270 AM and 96.1 FM in Reno. Listen live Saturdays at 2:00 PM Pacific Time.]

We are ten days from Election Day and there is one thing upon which everybody can agree: we’re sick and tired of politics. Sick of non-stop political ads, sick of dirty lying politicians willing to say anything – literally, anything – that might collect a vote, and sick of democracy in general.

What a mess. Winston Churchill said democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried, which is the opposite of a backhanded compliment – call it a backhanded insult. It’s reassuring that a smart man like Mr. Churchill expressed faith in democracy, but he wasn’t living in a world with Donald Trump and Gloria Allred.

When they teach about democracy in school they talk about ancient Greeks and Roman senators standing around in dignified circles wearing robes, discussing philosophy, and making wise decisions. But it’s nothing like that, is it? Instead of wise men discussing philosophy, we have Joe Biden grinning like a jack-o'-lantern, presidential candidates talking about Big Bird, and a constant stream of dirty tricks, scandalous revelations, fuzzy equivocations, and silliness.

This week alone, Biden talked about being “here in Iowa” when he was in Ohio, Obama said he wanted “wind turbines manufactured here in China” when he was in Colorado, and Romney called Syria “Iran’s route to the sea,” so at least when it comes to geography these guys are not wise men in robes. “Fraternity brothers at a toga party” is more like it.

Here in Michigan, we have six proposals on the ballot and TV commercials running 24/7. It’s enough to make you scream. They go back to back usually, with an ad in favor followed immediately by an ad against. Proposal 3, for example, would mandate that 25% of Michigan’s electricity be generated by windmills and fairy dust (or something like that, I’m paraphrasing) and the people spending money to pass it – mostly Californians who have messed up their own state so badly they had to branch out and start working their magic on other states – insist this will lower the cost of electricity. Those ads are followed by people insisting it will raise the cost of electricity. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out somebody is lying.

I just have one question for people in favor of Proposal 3: if windmills are cheaper, why do we have to mandate them?

Meanwhile, President Obama decided that snarkiness and insults were the way to go in debate three. I guess nothing else was working. One nasty exchange came when Romney talked about defense cuts required by an automatic process called “sequestration.” Romney said:
“I will not cut our military budget by a trillion dollars, which is a combination of the budget cuts the president has, as well as the sequestration cuts. That, in my view, is making our future less certain and less secure.”
The president replied:
“First of all, the sequester is not something that I've proposed. It is something that Congress has proposed. It will not happen. The budget that we are talking about is not reducing our military spending. It is maintaining it. But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn't spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military's changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”
Those ten sentences comprise one of the most amazing and frightening paragraphs ever uttered by a president – equal parts disrespect, dishonesty, and ignorance. First of all, sequestration is an idea that originated in the White House, not in Congress as the president claimed. Second, the president knows whatever budget he might be “talking about” is irrelevant. He’s written three of them so far and they were all amateurish, unrealistic, and so unworkable that Congress ignored them. Even members of his own party don’t take his budgets seriously: the last one was voted down 414-0 in the House and then 99-0 in the Senate.

The frightening part, though, is not his dishonesty, but rather his ignorance. This man is the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces. We’d like to think he takes the job seriously. He never served in the military but we’d like to think he read a book on the subject or at least a pamphlet. You know, so he’s ready when things get testy somewhere. Fact is, bayonets are not exactly buggy whips – we don’t have fewer than we did in 1916 because both the Army and the Marines still use them. And aircraft carriers require a fleet of ships around them and thousands of men to run them or they can’t leave port, so the scheduled defense cuts might leave one or two of them permanently parked.

And submarines, Mr. President, are not ships. They’re called boats.

According to Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, Obama’s snarky insult about horses and bayonets drew laughter and applause in the newsroom where the media was watching the debate, so apparently some people like this kind of undignified discourse.

Maybe we have the kind of democracy we deserve.

That's... today’s dose of common sense.

"It's better to burn out than it is to rust." – Neil Young

"The oblique paradox of propaganda is that the lie in the throat becomes, by repetition, the truth in the heart." – John Grierson

From Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA       

October 29, 2012 - I'm not sure if they are planning on the mandate passing here in Michigan or not, but on two seperate occasions I've passed flat-bed semis carrying giant windmill blades. The size of these single blades is just massive. Almost unbelievable. Makes me wonder if they are already bringing them in before the election takes place planning on getting the vote. – Samantha R., Michigan
J.P. replies: There are already massive subsidies and tax breaks for windmill builders. They make money building them, then walk away when the stupid things stop working and the government subsidies dry up. The world is full of poorly-maintained windmills that no longer produce eletricity – giant, bat and bird-killing eyesores. Proposal 3 would require that Michigan keep building them even if Romney becomes president and ends the subsidies and even as the price of natural gas plummets making them less viable economically. Proposal 3 is simply job security for Chinese windmill manufacturers.

October 27, 2012 - You have absolutely hit it on the nail head, JP. The most frightening thing IS his ignorance, both militarily and economically speaking. – DRB, North Carolina

October 27, 2012 - You are exactly on point. I live in Virginia and we are being constantly inundated with ads from one party or candidate, after another. In addition, we have stopped anwsering our phone due the numerous phone calls that we are receiving one right after the other, for the 3 registered voters in our house. I am disgusted with the current administration. I am disgusted by the personal behavior they have displayed whether during the debates or while campaigning. Is it just me, that expects our president to be respectful and dignified, instead of resorting to name calling, condescension and arrogance? All coming from a man, that was supposedly educated at Columbia and Harvard, and should have an extensive vocabulary, but resorts to liar, sketchy, bull....., and refers to himself as "eye-candy." I hope this is not the democracy we deserve, because if it is, we are in HUGE trouble. – Pam T., Virginia

October 27, 2012 - That Proposal 3 battle is really something, isn't it? I'd like to know how many millions the two sides have spent on TV ads. Gotta say though, requiring windmills and similar nonsense in the constitution seems like a horrible idea. What happens if somebody invents practical fusion next year – we still have to install windmills? – R.P., Michigan

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