The Presidential Debates and the Merry-go-Round.

Occasionally I sit plastered to the television hoping something will make me laugh and put the labor of a long day behind me. The other night I was delighted to run into The Presidential Debates. I knew inherently, they would satisfy my appetite for humor and wet my palet with the pleasure of awaited laughter. After ninety minutes of diabolical dialog and political jib jabbing I could not distinguish who was the more proficient liar. The see-saw rhetoric of “that just isn't true” left me bewildered, confused and uninformed. I could have elicited more direct answers to the questions from my grandchildren.

In my zeal to be an informed voter, I perused the available websites for some semblance of truth. Here is what I went through to uncover the "so called facts" represented by the candidates. I examined the Huffington post, ABC News, NBC News, The Christian Science Monitor, The BBC News, MSNBC, NPR News, The Drudge Report, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, Forbes.com, Fox News, CNN News and The Washington Post. When I finished, I was relieved to discover that they were just as confused as I was and each, without exception, had to refer to some fact checking organization. So, not to be outdone, I examined the following fact checking organizations. Truth or Fiction.com, PolitiFact.com, OpenSecrets.org, FactCheck.org, Snoops.com. and The Fact Checker.

Keep in mind that I am checking to determine the verity of statements made by men running for the highest office in our nation and that I am doing so because they spent half the night refuting the honesty of one another. All of these fact checking organizations are supposedly non partisan and yet, they disagreed in their assessment of the facts. I am 4 hours and thirty three minutes into my effort to be informed and I am still not sure who is telling me the truth. By the way, the media continues to use the phrase, “misrepresented the facts”. I suspect that this is because the word "liar" is disrespectful when directed at such high office. Obviously, men running for such high office have much on their minds and are too busy or simply unaware that they are mistaken or lying. Furthermore, they are obviously under the delusion that I have nothing else to do, but spend my days perusing fact checking organizations, who it turns out, know as little as I do.

On to my research! I read an expository research study by UCLA and The University of Missouri on bias in the media. They have studied all the major news organizations and identified those leaning left, right and center. Obviously, if I know which bias is writing the news, I will stand better equipped to discern the truth.

The shortest list first: The most centrist, Jim Lehrer, CNN’s Aaron Brown and ABC’s Good Morning America. In print news "USA Today" is the most centrist. Of the 20 major media outlets, 18 lean left and 2 lean right. Ready for a surprise? The most left leaning: 1) The Wall Street Journal followed by The NY Times, The L.A. Times, and CBS. Leaning Right; Fox News and The Washington Times. I am now 5 hours and 15 minutes into this absurd hunt and I have to determine the "facts from the bias" in each summation of the news from 20 sources dedicated to the intoxication of their own opinion.

From the left leaning headlines, I concluded that the most important discussion we should be having a day after the debate revolves around “a binder full of women” statement Romney made. From the right leaning headlines, I've discovered that I should be outraged that the left has had more minutes than the right in each debate. From the centrist i have learned that they think both the right and left concerns are news worthy. I am now 6 hours and 20 minutes into the twilight zone and know less than when I started.

Fortunately I have discovered a study which qualifies the verity of fact checking organizations to determine which ones I can trust. I have decided not to go there because this is fast becoming a ridiculous exercise in which I will simply discover that truth is lost on a merry-go-round of linguistic misrepresentations.

I did uncover a few interesting items while laboring in this useless research. Polls influence voting patterns in America more than you might expect and there are numerous polls touting varied outcomes which are, themselves, destined for inevitable misrepresentation. Historically, the most accurate predictor is a toss up between Rasmussen and Pew.( #3 is You gov ( #4 is Harris (#5 is Zogby. Gallup is #20). CBS, Fox, ABC, NBC are out of the top 10 and CNN is #8. Now, Rasmussen who as the reigning authority of accuracy, has predicted the winning ticket twice. What’s that say about the rest? Even worse, their inept failure influences our decisions? We would do better with the weather man.

Presidential ad spending is currently $812 million and on pace to reach a billion. Romney has spent a little over 6 and the remainder was spent by Obama. Half of all that spending was in the states of Fl., Ohio, and Va. Our candidates have a billion dollars for nonsense advertising and I can't get facts which are actually factual. Does this instill any confidence in me that either one of these candidates can balance a budget? How does one do that without knowing where to get facts that are factual?

Well, I've spent the best part of a day trying to be informed and 90 minutes watching the presidential candidates discredit the honesty and integrity of one another. I am not better off than I was 4 years ago, but, given the mess we were in, I didn't expect to be. I just want some truth so that I can cast an informed vote. I will go to the polls soon and I will go as ill informed as they want me to be. I will cast a vote that I will take little pride in because my march toward the facts left me sitting on a merry-go-round. The sadness is, you would expect such men, above all else, to tell the truth. With a billion dollars they can afford to hire a few fact checkers and decrease the unemployment rate simultaneously. For crying out loud, we're talking about the office of The President of the United States, not candidates for student class president. An American citizen shouldn't have to spend a day fact checking what a presidential candidate claims. Nor should we have to peruse every major media outlet in the world to simply learn that misrepresentation isn't really lying. Wait a minute! That's another misrepresentation!

Admittedly, I am an idealist. I actually expect men who run for such office to have character that would prohibit the inclination to stretch, alter, manipulate, distort or misrepresent the truth. Unfortunately, misrepresenting the truth has churned out a host of new businesses. Should the politicians stoop to telling the truth, these new businesses would be out of business, the unemployment rate would certainly rise and more accusations which are unverifiable would emerge to keep the merry-go-round from breaking down. All of which leads me to this frightful conclusion. Our real business today is to keep the merry-go-round, going round and round.

I want to moderate just one debate. Imagine being able to say, "Mr. candidate, I did not ask you what your opponents view was, I asked you what yours was." Maybe when we vote republican we are really voting for a misrepresented democrat. It doesn't really matter. I've got more important fish to fry. Somewhere out there is a "binder full of women" and as a wanna be informed voter, I need to get to the bottom of this unfolding national catastrophe.

Comments 26 comments

Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 4 years ago from San Francisco

Thank you for this. Was it my imagination or did 2 of America's leaders go on national TV and act like kids (well almost).


Genna East profile image

Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Bravo! I loved this, and have book marked it twice. Once for the left, and once for the right...just to be fair. :-) And I'm an Independent. Alan, this is a true classic.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Good for you, Alan! Yup - I'm watching the debates and each one leaves me with a response something like: blblblblblblblblblblblblblb….!

Mhatter, yes they did behave like kids squabbling on the playground, but in very expensive suits and ties.

Today I uncovered an indisputable fact related to one of the "big issues" being argued and debated over and over by the candidates, and it's one that hits home and close to the bone. It impresses me, or should I say - depresses me. It involves Medicare.

I've been struggling with and earnestly researching my health insurance issues. No, no, not the major medical or Rx because I never touch that stuff, though I'm covered for it with Medicare & supplemental insurance in defense against catastrophic illness or accident. I'm healthy but not foolhardy. But what I do need and use routinely is reasonable vision and dental insurance upon which I can count!

Well, guess what? - for 2013, in the "Medicare and You" handbook on page 52, the "What's NOT covered by Part A & Part B" list includes these: "Routine dental or eye care" & "Dentures". Of course the dental stuff has been virtually eliminated for at least several years. (I got out my handbooks for the last several and verified that.) But 2013 will be the first time EVER that vision coverage is swept off the table. Luckily, I just went to the eye doctor & ordered my 'good eye' glasses lens in 2012!! It hadn't needed to be changed in several years. I barely made it under the wire!

All this "not covered" change might be easier to swallow if it weren't for the array of things that ARE covered now, things that seem more to reward poor health and life choices than unavoidable natural aging fallout. For example, covered by Medicare for 2013 are counseling for alcohol misuse and obesity. Not that I object to those coverages, but trading off for vision and dental care???? For one thing, Medicare is for folks 65 and older who might be expected to have resolved SOME of those discretionary choice matters/misuses in that amount of time, though their eyes and teeth might be even more expected to succumb to the years just from normal usage all those years!

Alas, though, it's obviously more convenient for candidates to focus on smoke and mirrors in so-called debates, which are more like cat-fights or one-upmanship games, than actually to talk about such everyday issues. Easier to generalize and use them as giant 'snowballs' to throw at each other. Since they both can afford whatever medical care they want or need for themselves and their families, these are not important personal issues, I guess. They're just political points for the uncommitted and they hope will be undetected by the deeply affected of us who've become somewhat immune to such subtle changes which eke away what benefits we'd thought we'd earned over lifetimes.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Thanks for the comment hatter. Most kids are better behaved.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

From one independent to another, thanks for commenting Genna. I appreciate the fairness which you have illustrated. Perhaps a trait quickly vanishing from the American landscape.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I seem to have gotten you all stirred up butterfly. Neither party wants to confront health care. They just pay it lip service. I bought two pair from Walmart this year, out of pocket of course and I am still buying meds from Canada. Shame on me, but, there are no generic versions yet. I fear it will get much worse before it gets better. Our presidential choices are much like medicare, they address everything that doesn't matter and steer clear of the things that do. I have pregnancy coverage and drug counseling available, but, I can't see where I'm going. Oh yeah, my doctor keeps asking me if I want Viagra. I guess I need it to take advantage of my pregnacy coverage!


Genna East profile image

Genna East 4 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Good comments Alan. There are some very grave problems we face, and even tougher times ahead that neither candidate will address, honestly. It’s the last thing voters want to hear. I believe if they were honest about this, and that the reasons surrounding our current dilemma stem from both sides of the aisle, it would help to bring this country closer. I’m so weary of this “us versus them” that does nothing to resolve problems, but couch people at two opposite ends of spectrum extremes in a kind of civil war. The chronic spin and poor reporting on the part of the media doesn’t help. What Nellieanna termed as “smoke and mirrors” is spot on.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Hi again Genna! There are some grave issues indeed. Unfortunately candidates are afraid of alienating any voter block and have found safety in ambiguity or attacking their opponent rather than risk the honest discussion of issues. I agree. We are engaged in a civil war. Ideology has swept our problems under the carpet of party preservation and party victory. Politics have nothing to do with solving problems. They have everything to do with convincing us the problems are the fault of the other party. It is the the same ploy employed in our juvenile years.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

You nailed both candidates and their distortions of the truth with this one, arb. Since you mentioned watching TV and the debates hoping something would make you laugh, I offer you the following. These humourous one-liners were delivered by Mitt and BO at the Al Smith dinner earlier this week sponsored by Catholic charities.

Romney said he was glad to attend the white tie function wearing “what Ann and I wear around the house.”

Mitt said he wished President Obama would have brought Vice President Joe Biden with him “because he’ll laugh at anything.”

He also said, “Of course we’re down to the final months of the president’s term. You have to wonder what he’s thinking. So little time, so much to redistribute... In the spirit of Sesame Street, the president’s remarks tonight are brought to you by the letter O and the number $16 trillion.”

Obama started with: “Everybody please take your seats, otherwise Clint Eastwood will yell at them."

“Tonight, I am here with a man who was a popular governor, who knows what it’s like to run a major Northeastern state and who very well could be president someday, and I am hoping it is Andrew Cuomo."

He also mocked his debate performance in the first debate: “I particularly want to apologize to Chris Matthews. Four years ago, I gave him a thrill up his leg. This time around, I gave him a stroke.”

Hope your weekend is fun or at the very least, funny.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

drbj! Thanks for reading. I have long suspected that comedy is a more appropriate line of work for our candidates. They simply choose politics to gather material.


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 4 years ago from California

What an interesting commentary on the election process. Studies and numbers can always be used to achieve a desired outcome. But I do suspect that there are huge differences in how these two candidates see the job of president and how they view effective economic policy. Given that the implementation of any economic policy takes years to be felt among the general populace, I wonder if we just keep throwing the ball back and forth too soon--


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

There is no doubt that the american people are in want of instant results, regardless of which party has control. I wonder however, if our system of intended balances, hasn't inadvertently, become a system of obstacles impossible to navigate. It doesn't take much anymore to stall, delay or prohibit the implementation of anything by anybody. As a matter of fact, I think it has become the agenda of both parties; prevent the other from doing anything which would be considered beneficial and then fault them for not doing anything. What a merry-go-round we are feeding!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

What a great read. You have highlighted the craziness and lack of function in our system, where trying to get straight answers and correct information is a never-ending and incredibly frustrating merry-go-round ride. I am grateful ( I think) for fact checkers and evaluators, but as your journey through "information multiplicity and overload" so aptly demonstrated, we are still left confused and they (two individuals vying for our highest office) continue to banter about in half truths (and have spent a fortune trying to persuade us one way or the other). There has got to be a better way. I wonder sometimes, how extreme and dysfunctional our government will have to get before the people insist upon change. Excellent tirade. :) Sharing, of course. ~~Theresa

P.S. Your "paragraphization" was very helpful and impressive. :)


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I wrote this offline in reply to your earlier reply to my earlier comment, Alan. I could've saved the following words by reading your most recent comment which says most of what I wanted to say, and better! But words aren't my shortage problem, so I'll go on and post them, even if they're redundant. Might as well be in style. Maybe I'll run for office one day!

True, Alan. yeah, yeah. While health care for me isn't the major #1 problem it is for so many citizens, nobody even remotely associated with politics wants to confront its real issues; -nor many other REAL problems, issues or effects of and on REAL people's lives, with policies that are out of control. Not that we're (yet) completely helpless without their help, by any means, but the roadblocks that are generated by their inaction or misdirected actions DO pose serious hindrances to our being able to do that, the way earlier generations could! At this point it's a muddle whether there's too much or too little 'government' in our lives. The net effect is - - the resultant muddle either way. I'm glad I'm fairly able to steer myself through my senior days no matter what they do or don't. But not everyone can.

I am seriously concerned about the role our country is playing in world affairs, too; and, after all, ultimately - that affects all citizens if and when we're led into ever accelerating economic, military, diplomatic and who-knows-what-other deep do-do. Looking back over my time alive on this Earth, though, I can't really say there've been a lot of clear & sensible policies in effect. Some stop-gap ones managed to stop the immediate gaps, but only so that bigger ones could emerge. My current view of them is that they're worsening, rather than improving.

I had hopes that Obama brought a welcome clarity of vision to the office in 08. But if he did, it seems to have succumbed to the general policy of 'the more muddle, the better' of the DC scene. Who knows? Perhaps it's inevitable? Perhaps this setup just really isn't working because it really can't work. Depressing thought.

Problem is, the immediate alternative seems to be all set to begin by embracing the muddle-mindset, without even being subject to the DC syndrome, should he out-playact his opponent for the Oval Office this time. Heaven forbid. :-]

Anyone for BillyBuc for President??? He offered to run!


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

PS - uh-huh. I could probably apply for & get viagra myself; - just no visual & dental coverage. Grrrrr. That may bode good or bad for possible population explosions among some demographics. hmmm. The blindness might help it, especially while teeth may be getting progressively more unsightly, provided the viagra is effective. Is it an absurd system, or what?!


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

Good morning Theresa, I have missed you. I hope that things are well. I agree, there has to be a better way! As I have reflected upon the scheme of things, I have concluded, it isn't always the system which is the problem, but, the abuses and the coruption within the system. I try to imagine a government where lobbyist are forbidden, where there are reasonable term limits (especially in congress) and where all congressional and presidential candidates share a common campaign fund equally. The current system just allows too many favors for exchange, unlimited terms which are susceptible to the acumulation of favors and legislation which is influenced inevitablely by donars and campaign contributions. Everything is for sale. BTW, you are right, this is a tirade.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

BillyBuc would be an improvement to my current choices! Washington does indeed, reshape whoever is unlucky enough to win. Perhaps instead of character as a presidential quality, we should be finding someone who has been dealing with the shady side of administration all their life. Personally, I'm tired of qualifications period! Why are lawyers all running for office? We need a farmer. They know more about manure and how to grow things than all the lawyers in Washington. They work from sun up to sun down, they dig up all that dirt in a week and replenish it with something we can use and they know how to keep the pigs in a pen! Those are real qualifications needed when you tackle Washington.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I'M trying to imagine a populace loaded up on Viagra who can't see and have no teeth! The golden years are beginning to look a little bleak. Course if we can't see, we won't know how bad things are and if we did, they've taken away our bite!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Good afternoon Alan -- It is nice to be missed. I have mostly been out of Hub circulation for a little over six weeks. My 35 year old son was in the hospital with a dreadfully infected lower leg (of course we are all afraid of the limb eating MRCA bacteria) running terrible fevers. None of the IV antibiotics worked at first and they finally put him on vancomycin, which was effective and damaged his kidneys. For two additional weeks his kindneys hovered around 30% function.

They sent him home two weeks ago, but his kidneys are still only at 40% function and he is simply exhausted and they are looking into short term disability. His wife has MS and quite limited mobility, so I have done a lot of days at school and evenings at the hospital (this sort of thing really does get harder as we age...don't know why I am surprised). Hopefully, things will improve before too long.

I am in complete agreement with all your suggestions -- " a government where lobbyist are forbidden, where there are reasonable term limits (especially in congress) and where all congressional and presidential candidates share a common campaign fund equally." Those three things alone would go a very long way to reforming our government, not that there aren't other changes needed as well.

I hope you knew and know that my tirade comment was a compliment. I thoroughly enjoy and even long for exceptionally well-written tirades and rants...and yours always are. :) ~~ Theresa


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I found no offense in you referencing my tirade, a tirade. I am so sorry to hear of your current ordeal and the fear of mrsa can only compound an already frightening illness. I will pray that his kidneys are quickly restored and look forward to the days when your life is not occupied with such priorities.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Oh, Theresa - - I've been missing you greatly too. Figured your school chores were especially demanding and, knowing that once one gets out of sync with the overall time schedule, it takes time to get back "in". Have been patiently waiting to see your valued comments again.

Now I'm shocked and terribly sorry to hear of your son's, his wife's and your ordeal as he has been battling such a fearsome set of symptoms. What's more dreadful than malfunctioning kidneys? We tend to take their constant life-supporting functioning for granted, - till they don't. Almost everything is intricately processed by them. Years ago I had a little kidney infection which was both painful and scary. Fortunately, when I stopped drinking carbonated beverages, it cleared up. I've avoided them ever since. In your son's case, his was caused by treatment of the other serious condition, totally beyond his option. I so hope and pray that his leg condition and the kidneys, will improve greatly soon. How are his and his wife's spirits? They must be worried to pieces. Disability would surely be helpful.

We can't have you wearing yourself out. Of course, our resources are more limited as we age. Sigh. We have little choice but to try to pace ourselves. At times, that's not an option. So please - try to get your rest as effectively as possible.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Yes, we might justifiably mistrust the sanity of anyone who's both honest and crazy enough to run for our highest office, dear Alan. It's booby-trapped.

As for effects of aging, fortunately, we still have some personal options that really can make its effects less bleak. Not everything or always, but more than we may realize. I saw a 104-year old woman, - a Johnny Carson guest - who still played golf and led a busy life. When asked her secret, it was, "Stay away from doctors." Sometimes it does seem that once one gets on their merry-go-round, it's more and more negatively convoluted & controlling. I guess the trick is in realizing when one is boarding it in time to avoid committing to it, along with knowing when one has no other choice but to climb aboard - and maybe, even, how & when to bail out.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I suppose knowing that we are on one, allows our jumping off! ha, ha. The problem is for those who neither know, nor have any wonder of the problem. I keep jumping on and off with hope that I never forget where I am. I prefer watching it go round and round from a more neutral vantage point as I know you do.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Yes, Alan. That's so. Recognizing it is the key. I feel blessed to have been able to avoid becoming seriously snared for this long, especially when it was an insidious probability. Luckily, the most continuous pills I've taken have been hormone & mineral/vitamins supplements, which I no longer take. Most other Rx dosages over the years I've actually needed have been specific for conditions with foreseeable ends, such as the shingles a few years ago, with a 7-day regimen of meds. I refused the pain meds for it.

I clearly realized the choice possibilities in my late 30s when I had colitis and was told I'd be on a medication for it the rest of my life. I went home and thought about that 'sentence' and decided that - no - I needed to do something about the cause of the colitis, not just treat it like an old friend. It was an area for me in which stress first attacked, so it was being exacerbated by obvious & undeniable major stress in my life and that I couldn't stop the cause of the stress, but I could alter my response & my helplessness toward it more effectively. I've little doubt that I'd probably have serious colon problems now otherwise.

In fact, I wrote my poem "Rain Dance" during this time.

RAIN DANCE

I feel that for too long

I’ve done my rain-dance

In a sterile planetarium,

Wanting, seeking

Life-giving water,

But afraid

To beseech the sky.

And why?

Because I sensed

It nourishes

But it also may

Devastate.

Quandary have I:

To risk – or just, in thirsty fear - to die?

______© Nellieanna H. Hay

spring, 1971

The decision has stood me in good stead during other dangerously stressful situations which can be so confusing while they're ongoing. It can be difficult. Yes, your apt description of a solution as a neutral vantage point is very close to a workable one; though there is a further fine-tuning which allows for feeling without being consumed and derailed.


arb profile image

arb 4 years ago from oregon Author

I beleive that stress is the precurser to many of our illnesses. Unfortunately life gets in the way and we must weather all that comes to bear. I too, have come to learn ways to diminish the full brunt of stress and I too, refused all the medications (but 1)imposed upon me after my heart attack.

Wonderful poem! The awful thing about risk is waiting to see if we were right! Of course, even that doesn't tell us what the other course might have brought. No, we choose and bask in the warmth of knowing that we, at the very least, can choose. When we choose, we better damn well beleive in the choice. Stressing over it simply steals our thunder.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

Absolutely! Stress is no respecter of reasons for it, even if they're for good causes! We can't allow it to take over and as you say so well, "steal our thunder"! One might say that stressing is an ultimate act of weak faith.

Yes, - that's what risk IS: - not being sure of being right, but taking hold, taking responsibility and acting upon a decision with conviction. Sorta describes most everything in life, if we really get right down to it, doesn't it? The very thing that makes it LIFE, is what makes it changeable and uncertain. Remove the risk and insecurity, and static nothingness is all it could be. Of course, we're surely here to learn to make better choices and live with our poor choices valiantly and learn from them. It's in the system if we pay better attention!

We make choices almost every moment of every day of various kinds. We may not be able to visualize the path they'll take or even to consider that they WILL lead somewhere, which may be to good outcomes or serious consequences, some maybe even irreversible. Of course, choices gather momentum and pick up more choices with effects, as they move along the path. Life is risky business!

I've sometimes thought that what it boils down to is that 'sin' is what doesn't or can't work! Do we recognize those first choices in a chain leading to that eventuality? Not always, for sure. But some of the tiresome rules are pretty good guidelines to help with that. If religion provided nothing else but some good guidelines for living, it would have huge value and merit - IF heeded! haha.

As you say so succinctly, - when we choose, we better be ready to step up and take responsibility for the consequences, - good, bad or ugly. Then, however they work out, we must keep tabs on our natural tendency to fret, deny, blame &/or to self-pity rather than to channel our energy into making the best of it with our eye on the light which life gave us in order to weather its lessons. It really is a wonderful life. The old saw that 'where there's life, there's hope' is so . . .another choice. . . . :-)

    Sign in or sign up and post using a HubPages Network account.

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No HTML is allowed in comments, but URLs will be hyperlinked. Comments are not for promoting your articles or other sites.


    Click to Rate This Article
    working