Shopping, the Vikes and the dangers of irony

I was a local shopper before it was cool, so I was pleased to see Small Business Saturday turn into a national phenomenon.
My goal this year is to buy all my Christmas presents in the small towns of the Mille Lacs area.
I’ve never liked Walmart, and Target isn’t much better except that it keeps most of my money in Minnesota. I was pleased to see Walmart workers starting to stick up for their rights, and I hope it continues.
An interesting study released last week showed that if large retailers increased wages from the average — $21,000 — to $25,000 per year, it could be covered with a 1 percent increase in prices. A penny on the dollar to lift 700,000 workers out of poverty.
The ripple effects on the economy would be tremendous, with millions of workers spending an extra $4,000 per year, resulting in an estimated $12 billion to $15 billion in GDP and over 100,000 new jobs.
Speaking of small business, we have several great organizations in our community that support small business and go to great lengths to improve the local economy.
If you are a business owner and are not a member of the Isle Chamber of Commerce, the Onamia Civic Association, the Garrison Commercial Club, and/or the Mille Lacs Area Tourism Council, you should be.
The game we should’ve lost
Yeah, it was all a dream, those first few games, with Christian Ponder playing like an all-star and the defense looking like the ‘85 Bears.
Now we’ll be lucky to win another game.
Like many Vikings fans, I’m thinking back to last year, when a loss to Washington would’ve given us a shot at drafting a Heisman-winning quarterback by the name of Robert Griffin III.
RG3, as he’s known, threw for four touchdowns a week ago against Philadelphia and four more on Thanksgiving in the Redskins’ win over Dallas.
Meanwhile, our own franchise quarterback is looking more and more like a cross between Gary Cuozzo and Norm Snead (for you longtime fans).
Assuming Mr. G3 stays healthy, Vikings fans will have a good 10 years of jealousy.
A clarification regarding last week’s column
Last week I wrote about a former friend who was arrested for criminal sexual conduct that allegedly occurred while he, a pastor, was counseling adult male parishioners in how to be “cured” of homosexuality.
To be clear: I don’t believe that homosexuality is a sickness, or that it can or should be cured.
Some also may have thought I was confusing pedophilia and homosexuality.
I know the difference. Pedophiles can be straight, gay, or in between, and heterosexuals commit far more sex crimes than homosexuals.
The last line was problematic: “Finally, there’s my friend himself, who has spent his adult life attempting to reconcile an irreconcilable reality: that the God he loved so much had created him with a disease he could not for the life of him cure.”
It was intended as irony. I was not expressing my own beliefs, but what I believe my friend believes.
I guess I should’ve been more direct.
If anyone was offended, it wasn’t intentional. My track record on the issue should speak for itself.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.
This column was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger on Nov. 29, 2012.

When the offender is your friend

You might’ve seen the story in the Star Tribune, or on KARE 11, or on Huffington Post — the headline “Ex-gay counselor, arrested for molestation.” When I saw it, I clicked on it, because I have gay friends and acquaintances, and I’m curious about those who attempt to “cure” homosexuality.
Normally, I would’ve responded to the headline and the story as thousands of commenters on the Internet — with disgust, outrage and insults. “Sicko.” “Pervert.” “Wackjob.”
But this case was different, because the sicko in the story was my friend.
When I was in junior high, he showed up at our church and starting hanging out with my friends and me. He was a student at a nearby college, where my dad taught and I later attended.
We were probably too young to see “Harold and Maude,” but he took us anyway, introducing us to the Suburban World Theater and the Uptown neighborhood where we later spent so much time.
He took us on overnights to a mansion on Summit Avenue where he provided home health care to a dying old man. He showed us a secret room accessible only through the kitchen cupboards.
One summer I was the assistant counselor in his cabin at a Bible camp.
In hindsight, it looks like textbook predator behavior, but knowing the mindset of an adolescent evangelical, and knowing my friend, I don’t think it was.
This was the late 1970s, and in our community, we didn’t talk about homosexuality. If someone had told me my friend was gay, or a predator, or a pedophile, I would’ve looked at them like they were speaking a foreign language.
Through all of our experiences, he never tried anything with me. I’m fully aware that victims of sexual abuse can repress it out of their memories, but I sincerely believe I had nothing to repress.
My friends say the same. With one of them, our friend spoke openly about his homosexuality — and his guilt and shame about it — but he never did anything inappropriate. He took another friend to talk to a gay man. My friend remembers it as a teenage adventure — not a come-on.
My friend was a remarkable young man — a ’70s spiritual seeker. He wanted more than anything to follow Jesus, but no doubt he thought his sexual desires were incompatible with his spiritual ones.
Several years later, two of us attended his wedding. To a woman. Twenty years after that, I ran into him again when I worked with his wife and got to know his son.
Great kid. Smart, thoughtful, and kind — just like his dad had been in college.
We met for coffee a few times but soon learned we had little in common. He was a charismatic evangelical, and I was a hard-headed cynic.
Knowing him, he had probably convinced himself that he was doing God’s work — somehow attempting to teach others the self-control he had exhibited with me and my friends, and the “cure” (or denial) he had exhibited in his marriage.
This story is a tragedy from every perspective. If the criminal complaint is true, at least two victims fell for my old friend’s “therapy,” and my friend’s attempt to cure himself may have spread sickness to those he was supposed to be helping. Then there’s his family — wife and kids, siblings and parents — who will never live down his notoriety.
Finally, there’s my friend himself, who has spent his adult life attempting to reconcile an irreconcilable reality: that the God he loved so much had created him with a disease he could not for the life of him cure.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.
This column was published in the Mille Lacs Messenger on Nov. 22, 2012.

Rubio (and Obama), Kill, Spielberg, birds, Thanksgiving and the Balrog

Marco Rubio, one of the favorites for 2016 Republican nomination, doesn’t trust or doesn’t understand science when it comes to the age of the earth. Apparently he thinks the Bible and science are equally plausible “theories” on the topic and he doesn’t have the necessary background to judge the difference. “I’m not a scientist, man,” he said.
I don’t know what’s worse: If he really thinks that, or if he’s just saying it to appease his base.
Either way, it’s a shame that in this scientific age, with a great many scientific challenges facing us, we’re still appeasing and electing people who are just plain ignorant of basic scientific facts and have no more understanding of the earth than the cave men (persons) did.
http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2012/11/religion-v-science
Update:
In the interest of fairness, it turns out Obama said something similar in 2008. Here’s the comparison of the two:
Campbell Brown: If one of your daughters asked you — and maybe they already have — “Daddy, did god really create the world in 6 days?,” what would you say?
Barack Obama: I’m trying to remember if we’ve had this conversation. What I’ve said to them is that I believe that God created the universe and that the six days in the Bible may not be six days as we understand it — it may not be 24-hour days. And that’s what I believe. I know there’s always a debate between those who read the Bible literally and those who don’t, and that I think is a legitimate debate within the Christian community of which I’m a part. You know, my belief is that the story the Bible tells about God creating this magnificent Earth on which we live, that that is essentially true, that is fundamentally true. Now, whether it happened exactly as we might understand it reading the text of the Bible? That, you know, I don’t presume to know.
Compare that with Rubio’s answer in GQ:
GQ: How old do you think the Earth is?
Marco Rubio: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries. 
http://www.salon.com/2012/11/21/obama_once_gave_rubio_like_answer_on_earths_age/?source=newsletter
My opinion stands, regardless of who panders to the creationists. 
Barker vs. Kill
I read the letter AJ Barker wrote to U of M football coach Jerry Kill about quitting his team, and the newspaper reports on Kill’s news conference.
http://ajbarker82.tumblr.com/post/36017145381/my-letter-to-jerry-kill-why-i-quit
I found it interesting and it gets at some of the anachronistic behaviors and attitudes present in football locker rooms. Just watching Kill’s explosions on the sidelines makes me think he’s a Neanderthal, and reading Barker’s long missive is further confirmation (and also confirmation that Barker’s a bit dramatic and full of himself, like the footnotes at the end on manipulative personalities, probably lifted from his Psych 101 textbook).
Barker also claims that one of the assistant coaches called him a “faggot.” Kill denies it ever happened, but wasn’t there.
I know, I know, it’s football, but I think there are better ways to get the most out of players than sideline and practice field tirades and histrionics. These gorillas gotta join the 21st century.
Lincoln
Went to “Lincoln” yesterday with wife and son. It was really good. Daniel Day-Lewis was very fun to watch — and thankfully more understated in the role than in his scene-chewing performances in Gangs of New York and There Will Be Blood.
Tommy Lee Jones was great, but I can think of about 45 actresses I’d rather see as Mary Lincoln than Sally Field.
So I really liked it, but…
It’s Spielberg, and the ham-handed emotional manipulation caused more than a few eye rolls in the dark of the theater.
“Now I will make you laugh with James Spader cursing, while happy music plays.”
“Now I will make you cry with a zoom in on the tears in the eyes of the black servant.”
“Now I will gross you out when the man dumps severed legs into a garbage pit! Remember when the head popped out of the sunken boat in Jaws? I think I’ll try that again.”
Definitely worth seeing, but in my opinion, Spielberg treats audiences like children (which apparently we are, given his success).
Bird news
We’ve received reports that evening grosbeaks and pine grosbeaks are visiting feeders in the area.
A brief Internet query turned up lots of speculation that this will be an “irruption” year for boreal songbirds, including grosbeaks, crossbills, redpolls, siskins and red-breasted nuthatches.
Irruptions usually occur due to food shortages in the north, like small crops of berries and conifer seeds.
A reader was also mystified by the appearance of a sandhill crane. According to the DNR, migration of sandhills can take place through mid-November, so it’s not really out of the ordinary. The warm weather probably has them taking their time.
Thanksgiving
Here’s an old column from Thanksgiving 2010. An attitude of gratitude that even skeptics and secularists should be able to relate to.
http://www.messagemedia.co/millelacs/opinion/other_opinions/article_348f3a4a-87c7-5563-8e71-98d76d3794ef.html
Etc.
I’ve been dealing with a chronic sinus infection since May. I’ll spare you the details of the symptoms, but I’ve been working on an extended metaphor involving the sinuses as the Mines of Moria from Lord of the Rings, with the Fellowship as the various treatments (antibiotics, neti pot, sinus rinse, essential oils, apple cider vinegar, fasting, steam, heat packs, etc.) and the infection as the goblins, cave trolls, and ultimately, the Balrog, that live in the mines. I am hoping for Gandalf to come and finally destroy the Balrog, but so far it hasn’t happened. Appointment with specialist next week.
Speaking of which, it’s amazing the number and variety of homeopathic remedies, medical opinions, gullible sufferers, crackpot quacks, and all manner of health-related hogwash one can find on the Internet. It must drive the doctors crazy when people come in with their various New Age theories and Olde Tyme remedies.
I just want a pill to kill the Balrog.
Mille Lacs County’s recycling services will go to J. Vanderpoel, whose proposal will save the county $9,000 over three years. Not sure how I feel about that. Is it worth 30 extra cents per citizen to go with a tried-and-true provider versus an unknown quantity?
The weather today is spectacular. I was in Chicago over the weekend enjoying unseasonably warm weather. The fog lately has been odd, and it makes me wonder if it’s yet another example of the “new normal” of the greenhouse era.
Which is the main reason why it’s important to have people who believe in science in positions of power.

Canyon memories and desert dreams

When I turned 20 in 1983 I got it in my head that I had to see the Grand Canyon. Not just see it, but experience it, top to bottom.
I was a college student, and instead of taking a January interim class, I borrowed my mom’s Datsun and drove south, sleeping in a rest stop on the way to Oklahoma City, then heading west on Interstate 40 to Flagstaff.
The 30-year-old memories are faded and diluted by other trips to the southwest, but those of my descent to the Colorado River are as stark, colorful and unique as the canyon itself.
I wasn’t a very smart backpacker at the time, so my old blue Jansport — a high school graduation present from Mom and Dad — was loaded down with Campbell’s soup cans, the exact wrong choice for a steep 7-mile drop, including a mile in elevation, from the snowy forests of the rim to the swinging bridge over the roiling river.
Along the way I was utterly alone, the only sign of life the switchback trails and donkey dung. The trek was a 7-course feast for the eyes as the trail dropped from one color to another, one era to another in the incomprehensible geologic past — the Kaibab layer, followed by the Toroweap, Coconino, Hermit, Supai and so on.
I couldn’t imagine the millions of years it took to create those layers, but I could almost picture the river carving it out like the hand of God in a great sandbox, gouging and scraping the finest sculpture ever seen.
At one point I sat down to rest, my gluteus muscles burning from the jarring descent and the weight of the soup cans. I still remember the orange I ate and the scenery I drank, and the realization I had that this was my first experience of utter silence — a sensory shock as dramatic as the blue sky against white clouds and red and yellow rock.
During my day at the bottom I hiked toward the north rim for a few hours up the North Kaibab trail to a waterfall. Back at the civilized area around the campground, I headed to the ranger station where they sold drinks and treats in the evening, and a ranger with a mandolin led us all in a singalong — a memorable round of human fellowship during four days of desert solitaire. “This land is your land” never sounded so good.
I spent two nights at the bottom and a third halfway up. On the hike out I learned my lesson about soup cans when I met another hiker who had done the entire walk down and up with nothing but a bag of gorp. No stove needed, and no empty cans to pack out. By the time I reached the top, which is about 7,000 feet in elevation, I was stopping to rest every few hundred yards, but like any physical exertion in the great outdoors, it was worth every labored breath and painful step.
I’m reminiscing about my Grand adventure because I’m planning a repeat come spring.
I had just turned 20 the first time I went, and in January I’ll hit the big 5-0, so my gift to myself is a return trip to the Grand Canyon, this time with wife and kids in tow. Diane’s excited and the kids are apprehensive, but I’m certain it will make as profound an impression on them as it did on me.
A permit to the canyon in the busy month of March is no sure thing. I sent in my application on Nov. 1 — the first day March permits are doled out.
It may come as a surprise to those who know my political leanings that the best news I received on Nov. 6 had nothing to do with politics. That was the day I got my ticket to paradise.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.

The bad news about the oil boom

I’ve written a few times over the last couple years about “peak oil” — the theory that global oil production is at or near its peak and will soon begin to decline, leading to all manner of economic and social upheaval.
So much for that. The latest estimate is that the U.S., thanks to hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, may pass Saudi Arabia as the world’s greatest oil producer by 2017.
That’s good news for Obama and Democrats, who will preside over the oil boom and related economic growth.
But it’s bad news for the world as a whole.
For all the dangers the oil peak would (will) bring, it had this silver lining: We’d have to stop burning as much fossil fuels, which would at least slow the rate of climate change. We’d invest in sustainable energy technology because we’d have to.
We’ve proved over the last 20 years that no matter how much we know about how our fossil fuel habit warms the earth, we refuse to change. If we have oil, we’ll burn oil.
Now, with China passing the U.S. as the world’s worst CO2 polluter, the prospects are even worse. (The U.S. is still in second place, and first in per-person emissions.)
And peak oil is still a concern. Eventually we’ll hit it. The new technologies have just pushed it back a few years or decades. Some experts think the increased production estimates are overblown, since fields accessed by fracking tend to produce a lot right away and fade quickly.
I hope Obama uses his position to alert us to these realities and that he makes some difficult decisions over the next few years. The first should be to nix the Keystone pipeline that would transport dirty shale oil from Canada to the Gulf.
My prediction is that he’ll approve it, and that his environmental record will be not much better than Clinton’s or Bush’s — which will make it worse, given the increasing information about greenhouse gas and climate change. No excuses anymore.
I hope he proves me wrong.

Reflections on the election

It was a fascinating unfolding of events last night, and I got far too much of it — staying awake until the final Mille Lacs County results came in at 3:30 a.m. so I could call them into the Associated Press.
I enjoyed blogging my reactions and updates into the wee hours and was pleased to see that a few people were actually clicking on them.
A few thoughts:
Proud Minnesotan
I wrote columns encouraging “no” votes on both amendments but predicted when they were first proposed that the marriage amendment would fail and the voter ID succeed.
I was surprised that voter ID actually got fewer “yes” votes than the marriage amendment. My guess is that once word got out that there was a cost associated with it, a lot of conservatives who liked the idea suddenly didn’t.
Whatever the reason, I’m proud that my fellow voters nixed both of these unnecessary, partisan and mean-spirited amendments. That said, my arguments didn’t sway the people of our region, who gave a hearty “yes” to both amendments.
A few surprises in local races:
We’re still waiting to hear who those write-in votes were for in Garrison. We can assume that most, if not all, were for Pat Charlson for mayor and Sue Foster for council, but if a handful were for other write-in candidates, then Mayor Bruce Pierson and council candidates Matt Biever or Jimmy Naegele may still win.
I’m not a big fan of spur-of-the-moment grassroots overthrows. I think good candidates tend to be those who are in for the long haul, are concerned about multiple issues, and do things according to plan — which includes filing for office. However, this is how Democracy works, and if the rebels win, I wish them luck.
It’s also true that there are significant problems in the Garrison area, but I don’t think fixing the roof is foremost. The bigger problem is with the sewer board that completely dropped the budget ball, resulting in drastic underpayment of fees and a giant levy increase apparently due to failed or postponed negotiations with Mille Lacs Wastewater. That board needs fixing more than the Garrison City Council.
County commissioners in the Princeton area (Jack Edmonds and Dan Whitcomb) got defeated by upstarts Ginny Reynolds and Tim Wilhelm. I think Edmonds and Whitcomb both did a good job, and I’m nervous about their replacements. I’ve been sitting in on the Mille Lacs County Board meetings longer than anyone in the county, and I’ve seen lots of “reformers” come in with high hopes of setting the locals straight — only to find that the incumbents have been very competent.
Keep in mind that this board built a much-needed justice center and completed much-needed restoration of the historic courthouse without raising taxes. Quite a feat during a recession, and outgoing Commissioner Frank Courteau of the north end deserves a lot of the credit.
In the Milaca area, Phil Peterson narrowly defeated Laurie Gahm, a well-known Milaca nurse who has served on the school board. Phil is competent and runs an efficient meeting when he’s chair, but he tends to let his anti-regulation attitude blind him to good policy — a problem across the board, and many county boards. Interestingly, Frank Courteau and Jack Edmonds became the board’s most liberal members when it came to (often necessary) government regulation.
Roger Tellinghuisen, whose district used to include Onamia but now only reaches to the townships south of town, handily defeated Greg McQuay, who didn’t seem to have much of a campaign. Roger is a good listener and thinks before he speaks. Like the rest of the board, he’s pretty conservative, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (Yes, I just said that!)
On the north end, I wasn’t surprised that Dave Oslin beat Bill Hill. Both men would’ve been good representatives of the people of the area, and I wish Dave the best.
In the state House race in Mille Lacs and Kanabec counties, Joe Walsh did better against Sondra Erickson than I expected. If he tries again in 2014, he may have a shot at unseating her, assuming the venerable Sondra runs again.
Dave Brown won more handily against newcomer Sally Knox, who didn’t make a strong case for herself (including never contacting the editor of a fairly significant paper in the district).
In the US House race in District 8, I thought Cravaack might pull out a second term. He did a good job of appearing to be accessible (by sending staffers on regular listening tours of the district), and calculated his photo ops and issues carefully (gun rights, Mille Lacs guide licensing, mining, etc.). I personally thought it was mostly transparent posing, and it bothered me that his family moved to New Hampshire and he acted like that was not an impediment to representing our district as a member of the self-proclaimed “family values” party. I also suspect that his BWCA land-exchange deal was meant mainly to gut regulation of one of my favorite places.
I wasn’t impressed with Nolan and thought the DFLers of the 8th district could’ve done better. I voted for Jeff Anderson in the primary, who could be groomed as a credible replacement for 69-year-old Rick.
The headline for our area, which may appear in next week’s paper, is something like “Mille Lacs out-of-step with state.” We went for Romney, Cravaack, Yes, Yes, and Republican legislators while the GOP lost control of both the House and Senate.
Urban/rural split
Speaking of which, the difference between Mille Lacs and the rest of Minnesota seems to mirror a national difference between urban and rural voters. The country music crowd seems to be diametrically opposed culturally to the hipsters and minorities of our urban centers.
( I shouldn’t make so much of this, since 30-40 percent of rural areas may be liberal and the same percentage of urban areas conservative.)
Much has been made of the Republicans’ white male problem, and it’s something they’ll need to deal with over the next few years as minority voters become a larger slice of the demographic pie.
Here in the Minnesota hinterlands, I think we’re seeing and will continue to see a trickling down of urban influence among younger voters. We’ve already seen more tolerance of homosexuality, and I think the power of conservative churches will wane in coming years because young people really don’t like morality imposed on them through politics (which to me is one of the lessons of this election).
The Tea Party revolution
It turns out that the big gains of Republicans in 2010 didn’t represent a dramatic change in the country’s politics but was a function of low interest and low turnout among those who voted in 2008 and yesterday. It should be a lesson to Democrats and Obama that in 2014 they need to work harder at getting out the vote.
That said, there are certain realities posed to bite us, and one is unsustainable government spending and debt. However, as Europe is proving more by the day, a slash-and-burn “austerity” approach can lead to more significant problems than a stimulus program like Obama’s. Our economy is recovering; theirs are in danger of falling into deep recession.
The two parties need to come together to reform the tax code (making the rich pay more), cut defense spending dramatically, and find a way to make Medicare and Social Security sustainable for the long term. In addition to dealing with climate change and growing global competition for dwindling fossil fuels.
But will they?
A continuing problem in Obama’s second term may be the irrationality of the anti-Obama crowd. They’ve created a straw man — a socialist pawn of the radical left — who doesn’t exist. If they’d read his books or actually listen to what he says with an open mind, they might find that the BS they’ve been fed by the right-wing media is toxic for them and for the country.
Obama is about as much of a socialist as George H.W. Bush and about as likely to take your guns as Bugs Bunny is.
Seriously, folks, if you’re getting your news from Fox and Limbaugh, Trump and Nugent, you need to stop. You’re making yourselves dumber, and repeating the crazy accusations and exaggerations of the right is not going to make them come true.

If only we could focus on our similarities

I came across a post-election cartoon in the 1952 Messenger recently (see page 6). It showed a donkey and an elephant shaking hands in a boxing ring. The caption: “Just Americans again.” The message is a good one after any election, but moreso after one that was as bitter, divisive and deceitful as the one that was just decided.
As I write this, the election hasn’t been held yet, so I have no idea who came out the winners or the losers, and right now, I’m thinking about how little it matters.
In fact, setting aside the cries of “fascism” from the left and “socialism” from the right, and other exaggerations on both sides, the reality is that the two parties have more in common than either likes to admit.
Take abortion: Republicans at the state and federal levels have had many opportunities to push legislation to restrict abortion, but they’ve done very little after 40 years of promises. Even with a conservative Supreme Court, it’s unlikely that Roe V. Wade will be overturned, because the justices know the social costs of doing so.
If abortion were illegal, women would continue to have abortions, but they would be unsafe and unregulated, and the penalties for women and providers would be too severe for most of us to stomach.
Those who want to end abortion would do better to put their energy into family planning and sex education. That’s the best way to reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions worldwide, and Democrats have done a better job on that front than Republicans.
Now take the environment: Like the Republicans with abortion, Democrats have had many opportunities to propose, promote and pass legislation that would limit carbon pollution, yet they’ve been reluctant to do so. No matter who is in power, we continue to spew dangerous levels of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere because Americans’ highest priority is protecting short-term individual interests, not long-term global ones.
Obama has made small steps toward the post-oil economy, like increasing fuel-efficiency standards and investing in alternative energy, but it’s been too little, and it may be too late. He has expanded and encouraged oil development and has overseen a new oil boom that has us less dependent on foreign oil. Romney, if elected, would likely do the same, and as the effects of climate change become more obvious, even Romney and the Republicans will become reluctant environmentalists.
Now take the debt: Neither side is blameless when it comes to racking up debt and refusing to cut spending — It’s just that they have different priorities. Democrats focus on cutting defense and increasing taxes on the wealthy. Republicans want to cut so-called “entitlements” (Medicare and Social Security) and cut taxes for everyone (which results in either deficits or tax increases for the middle and lower classes).
Because Congress and state Legislatures are evenly divided, and certain obligations need to be met, and citizens want most of the services government currently provides, the debates over budgets are mostly hypocritical grandstanding.
No matter what the issue — defense, gun control, education, government reform, health care, transportation — the two parties are so close that they can smell each other’s halitosis.
But both parties, in their lust for power and relentless pursuit of campaign cash, accentuate their differences.
The media adds to the problem because they need a horse race, and the American public follows along in willful ignorance.
So thank God the election is over. Too bad the next one’s already started.
Brett Larson is the editor of the Messenger.