Jane Haddam’s WordPress weblog

Doom, Doom, Forever and Always Doom

with 6 comments

Okay, maybe not that bad.

It’s just that it’s suddenly hit me that we have an election in the US this coming Tuesday, and the only way in which you can say I’m prepared for it is that I am, in fact, registered to vote.

But then, I’ve been registered to vote in the same place for the last decade, so it’s not like I’ve recently accomplished something.

I spent most of last evening watching various Intemperate Fuming Pundit Shows–Glenn Beck, Keith Olbermann and Bill O’Reilly (they’re on at the same time and I switch on and off), Rachel Maddow. 

Interspersed among the shows were various political campaign ads for various candidates.  In Connecticut at the moment, that means lots of negativity and virtually nothing at all about what any of the candidates is supposed to stand for. 

It’s the one thing I’ll give Dick Blumenthal, our Democratic attorney general, who is running for the Senate seat Chris Dodd is retiring from:  there are in a fact a few ads out there about what a great guy you’re supposed to think he is.

Linda McMahon, his Republican opponent, used to have those kinds of ads, but lately I’ve seen nothing but the attack stuff. 

Of course, it’s not like Blumenthal lacks attack ads against McMahon.  It’s just that I also see other things.

But mostly, the ads this campaign year have been oddly bizarre and beside the point.  In the governor’s race–our incumbent governor, Jodi Rell, is not seeking reelection–Dan Malloy, the Democratic, has ads claiming that Tom Foley, the Republican, supports letting health insurance companies drop your coverage when you’re sick.

I assume that that’s a reference to Foley’s lack of support for the recent health care reform bill.  As such a reference, it is, the say the least, wildly misleading.

But what gets me is that there’s no point to it.  Foley isn’t a Congressman or a Senator.  He’s a private citizen.  And he’s running for governor, not for a chance to go to Washingtion.  Who cares what he thinks of the health care reform bill?

For what it’s worth, I’m leaning towards Foley–not because he’s a Republican (although I don’t mind Connecticut Republicans), and not because I’m particularly for anything he’s selling.

Hell, I don’t know what he’s selling.  We’re back to the attack ad problem again.  Here’s the real problem with attack ads:  these days, I virtually never see anything about any candidate in a positive light.  When I see candidate X at all, he’s in candidate’s Y’s attack ad as a scumbag.  And the same for candidate Y.

This seems to me to be a counterproductive way to run political campaigns.

No, if I’m leaning to Foley, it’s not because of something I know about him, but something I know about Malloy:  there are indications, in the way he ran Stamford, that he’s on the wrong side (for me) of Kelo.

Of course, Foley could be, too, but I’d never know.


I’ve got tea and Sam Harris and all my correcting done. 

Maybe I should go start the day.

For what it’s worth, I think all the grave pronouncements–on both sides of the political divide–about how this is “not an election, but a referendum” on Obama’s policies is probably overblown.

Most of the races I’m interested in are at the state level, not the federal one, and have to do with things like religious freedom and free speech on college campuses (Colorado regents) and state policies about homeschooling (state boards of education, about four places).

Then, on Sunday, it’s Halloween.

I don’t get as big a kick out of that as I used to.

I do wish the pundits would go back to doing something besides calling each other names.

And more and more, I’m with half my students, who get all their news from Jon Stewart.

And that’s just the half that actually watches any news at all.

Written by janeh

October 27th, 2010 at 5:33 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses to 'Doom, Doom, Forever and Always Doom'

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  1. Who watches news? I hadn’t realized how much my methods of getting news had changed to reading online until my mother moved to my city and I got in the habit of dropping in after works. She’s a real news lover, and always reads the newspapers and news magazines and watches the TV news. I’d sit and watch part of it since I was there anyway, but it’s not something I’ve done in years and years. I read websites and magazines.

    Attack ads are making their inroads here, Canadian politicians being perfectly happy to imitate their southern neighbours if they think doing so will help them get elected. And the attack ads do seem to work, don’t they?

    I think I’m getting old and cynical before my time, and I don’t believe half of what I see on TV or read – particularly if it consists of some unsubstantiated claim, or worse, ‘science has proven’ + numbers.

    I still vote though, although now I think it’s mainly because I don’t think I have much right to complain about the outcome if I didn’t participate in the process.


    27 Oct 10 at 9:15 am

  2. I was thinking about this just this morning. I usually get up at six and go to our town’s rec center to work out. There are three TVs in the exercise room and in the morning they’re all tuned to news. This morning two were tuned to the local Fox channel – which is execrable, not because they emulate Fox News Network, but because all their efforts are so horribly amateurish. The weather forecaster actually consistently refers to thunderstorms as thunderboomers and to severe weather as simply severe, as in, we have a good chance of severe today.

    It’s the channel for illiterates, or maybe preschoolers.

    Luckily the third TV was tuned to a channel that I can, at least, stand to watch the news on. But the commercials are the same on all the networks and they’re all driving me nuts. The gubernatorial race is awful – there’s a Republican running who appears to think that having seven children and running a bunch of negative ads about his opponent is all he needs to be qualified to be governor, and the Democrat is refraining from negative ads but isn’t really saying much of substance in his ads either.

    Then there’s the Congressional race for Michele Bachmann’s seat. I’ll admit here that Michele Bachmann seems to me to be almost completely unconcerned about what happens in Minnesota and spends most of her time in Washington sucking up the the far right wing of the Republican Party and saying really, really stupid things on the national news. And HER ads are almost completely negative ads – she appears to think that she can retain her seat if only she craps on Taryl Clark (her opponent) enough.

    I’m afraid it may work, too.


    27 Oct 10 at 10:03 am

  3. And here I am in California with my jaw hanging open, while the polls say my fellow citizens think having Jerry Brown as Governor again is a *good* idea. Yeah, give him a chance at what…his fourth or fifth state pension? He’ll be the only with any income after the election in the whole friggin’ state.

    We have a DVR, so we see far fewer TV ads of any type than most people, but we’d be on the edge of sanity if we had to watch them all. As Jane says, all attack, all the time. I can’t tell you what either Brown or Whitman stands FOR.

    It’s winding up to be another write-in for “None of the Above,” I tell you.


    27 Oct 10 at 12:10 pm

  4. Oh, c’mon, Lymaree, you can do better than “none of the above”. When I was an undergraduate at the University of Minnesota, the duly elected student council president in my junior year was Bombo Rivera (he was an outfielder for the Twins at the time) and in my senior year it was Mickey Mouse.

    THAT’S a write-in campaign.


    27 Oct 10 at 1:22 pm

  5. You know, if you get your news from your internet connection, and your entertainment from books, CDs and DVDs you can go weeks without ANY sort of commercial. However, I’d like to say two or three words in favor of negative ads.

    They’re truthful.

    Oh, they may mislead, and no coubt many are intended to mislead, but there is in any negative ad a grain of truth, which can then be investigated.

    Positive ads are of three types: (a) Those which tell me what a wonderful person candidate X is–his great family, for instance–and how he loves me and the country and wishes us both well. (b) Those which tell me what policies Candidate X will pursue when in office, and how he will pursue them. (c) Those which tell me of Candidate X’s past accomplishments.

    (c) may be upbeat, but it’s no more or less truthful than the negative ad. The fact is in there, but if you confuse the fact with the impression, you’ll get the candidate you deserve.

    (a) and (b) are, for the most part, filthy lies without even the leavening of truth found in the negative ad. At best, they deal with state of mind and intentions, and are completely impossible to prove or disprove.

    Advertising is not information, except accidentally. It’s a way to pay for entertainment. If you treat it like information, you deserve what you get.

    Fortunately, there is still print.


    27 Oct 10 at 4:06 pm

  6. Australia had a national election a few months ago. Toward the end, I was screaming at the TV. I got so tired of ads claiming that the world would come to an end if the wrong party won for all definitons of “wrong party”.

    Yt sounds as if the Australian parties have been copying the US.


    28 Oct 10 at 12:05 am

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