Is the Average Voter an Idiot?

“The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
—Winston Churchill

Churchill’s theory begs the question: Who is the average voter? In a world dominated by pop culture and irrelevant “news,” where voter perception thrives on false mythology, it is a cheap shot to characterize the average voter as stupid.

Most voters are not stupid. However, they are overwhelmed by their own lives, often uneducated on public issues and misinformed by an increasingly biased and malevolent media. Hence, the substance that formed Churchill’s opinion.

The result is that elections are often determined at an emotional level, not factual discourse and reasoned analysis. Campaign professionals understand this dynamic and easily manipulate the electorate. Current law, such as Citizens United, has exacerbated the problem, as “the Big Lie” has become standard fodder in a society that values the unregulated free-flow of ideas, even false ones, over the public right to receive honest and credible information.

In short, the real problem lies in the inability of the electorate to distinguish between true and false messaging, and fact and opinion.

The FCC is readily able to regulate commercial speech. If Listerine claims to help prevent the common cold, as it once did, the FCC can fine the company for dishonesty and force Listerine to issue a retraction. If the same standards applied to political campaigns, the Koch brothers, Karl Rove and others would not be able to fund or produce swift boat ads, birther ads, or other dishonest anti-Obama ads with impunity. The same standard would apply to Democrats, who are either more ethical than their Republican counterparts or, more likely, not as creative in making up stuff.

Given the current inability of partisans to be reasonable, utilizing government as the arbiter of truth, fiction, fact and opinion is not a good idea.

Years ago, the nonpartisan Santa Clara County Campaign Ethics Commission established a process that had a real effect on campaigns. Stakeholders, including both the Democratic and Republican parties, signed an agreement to withdraw their endorsement from any candidate who was found to be lying in campaign materials.

It was a complaint-driven system that was used only once. But the idea was a good one, it had a positive effect and it should be pursued. If the public had a credible arbiter who, regardless of political philosophy, had a system to alert voters of untrue information, it would be of great public service.

Much has been made of the money in political campaigns, but the real tragedy is in the misinformation distributed by campaign dollars. If the public knew the Koch brothers were lying to them, then informed voters could reject many of their claims. As we all know, money alone is not enough—if it were Meg Whitman would be Governor of California.

But until voters in our democracy can tell truth from fiction, and fact from opinion, our political system will continue to be mired by results that are neither fairly informed nor in the best interests of those who vote.

While flawed, another Winston Churchill quote summed up the current situation: “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all the forms of government that have been tried from time to time.”

Rich Robinson is an attorney and political consultant in Silicon Valley. Opinions are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect those of San Jose Inside.

40 Comments

  1. > If the public knew the Koch brothers were lying to them, then informed voters could reject many of their claims.

    Rich:

    Can you give me an instance of a “lying” claim made by the Koch brothers that I, an informed voter, should reject?

    > If the public had a credible arbiter who, regardless of political philosophy, had a system to alert voters of untrue information, it would be of great public service.

    What should your credible arbiter say about Obama’s book publisher who reported that Obama was born in Kenya?

    Should FCC standards be applied to prevent people from broadcasting the publisher’s claim?

    Should the FTC or the Consumer Product Safety Commission order Obama’s publisher to “cease and desist” in making such assertions?

    Based on the publisher’s record of disseminating “untrue information”, should the Feds prohibit the publisher from publishing ANY books?

    • 1) Koch brother lies—just a few

      They claim the administration gave money to build electric cars in Finland. Um, no. The Department of Energy funding was specifically for US jobs at US facilities. Sure enough the company is employing 700 workers in California and they’re planning to build a plant in Delaware.

      OK, another ridiculous claim, they said we sent money to China to build traffic lights. That’s wrong again, those traffic lights were assembled here, in this country, and helped expand our light manufacturing industry in this country.

      They said we gave money to a company building solar plants in Mexico. Nope, wrong again. Our money is going to build a solar plant here, in America, with American workers.

      NOTE:  This would also apply to folks who claimed the Koch Brothers were big oil, which they are not.  There ancestors are big oil, but they—acording to factcheck.org are not. 

      2)  An Arbiter would say that the use of the publisher’s false information to establish fact was indeed a lie. 

      3)  You cannot prevent broadcasting the false information, but the body politic in mass should loudly, in unison and in a bipartisan manner alert the public that the information is untrue and the person paying for it should not be considered credible.

      4)  Again, no government agency should be involved.  This should be an independent privately funded—but publically transparent organization.

      5)  No, I am not talking about prior restraint.  I’m just saying when information is false—everyone on the left and on the right should reject it as an untruth.

      The point is if the entire body politic rejects the lies that are published for political reasons the truth will have a chance to emerge.  That goes for lies against Mitt as well as Obama.

      • > 2)  An Arbiter would say that the use of the publisher’s false information to establish fact was indeed a lie. 

        Ummmm.  How would the Arbiter know that the publisher’s information is false?

        It has been asserted that up until 2005 or so, everyone who knew anything about Obama believed he was born in Kenya, AND the publisher of Obama’s proposed book based his biographical information in information provided by . . . Obama.

        The story that Obama was born in Hawaii apparently originated in the biography ghost-written for him by William Ayres.

        Why wouldn’t the Arbiter decide that Hawaii birth story about Obama is “false information”?

        • Lou, why is it easier to believe that Obama’s long form birth certificate is a forgery and the Hawaiian newspapers that announced Obama’s birth were lying than is to believe that Obama’s publisher made a mistake?

          And don’t answer with statements like “It has been asserted” and then not even say WHO asserted whatever you’re talking about. You cannot present hearsay as factual information.

          The totally casual mention of an Obama biography ghost-wrriten by Bill Ayers is so preposterous that I can only respond with bewilderment that you would believe something like it. As I often do.

        • The first sentence of the article says it all:
          “Bill Ayers has once again suggested he was the author of Barack Obama’s celebrated autobiography, even though the admission could be explained away as a mocking irony designed only to goad Ayers’s critics by yet another false admission he was the president’s ghostwriter.”

          The fact that he makes that joke immediately afterward, “and if you can help me prove that, I’ll split the royalties with you”, also suggests this is a jest. In fact, he used the EXACT same corny line the FIRST time he said he ghost wrote Dreams. A reporter approached him in an airport, and when he found out she was conservative, he said that he wrote Dreams, said that Michelle “egged put him up to it”, and told the joke about royalties.

          As one online blogger succinctly put it:
          “I think he enjoys mocking people who push this idea and enjoys it doubly when they can’t detect the mockery. In fact, I’d bet that this is his stock response anytime the book is mentioned in his presence — insisting that he wrote it to see if the listener laughs and then toying with them if they seem credulous.”

          And you are one of the ones who believes it. Congratulations, you’re a fool.

          Congressman Chris Cannon and his brother-in-law tried to hire an Oxford University professor named Peter Millican to prove Ayers wrote Dreams using computer analysis. Millican refused after they would not assure him in advance that his results would be published regardless of the outcome. Millican later said he did not believe the rumors had any factual basis, saying that he had “found no evidence for the ghostwriting hypothesis,” that it was “unlikely” and that he felt “totally confident that it is false.”

        • > Congressman Chris Cannon and his brother-in-law tried to hire an Oxford University professor named Peter Millican to prove Ayers wrote Dreams using computer analysis. Millican refused after they would not assure him in advance that his results would be published regardless of the outcome. Millican later said he did not believe the rumors had any factual basis, saying that he had “found no evidence for the ghostwriting hypothesis,” that it was “unlikely” and that he felt “totally confident that it is false.”

          This is evidence?  Evidence of what?

          That fact that a Congressman and his brother-in-law FAILED to hire an analyst who DIDN’T do an analysis, and furthermore believes the analysis HE DIDN’T DO wouldn’t prove anything?

          What the hell does that prove?

          This is one of the stupidist arguments I’ve ever heard.

        • > The fact that he makes that joke immediately afterward, “and if you can help me prove that, I’ll split the royalties with you”, also suggests this is a jest. In fact, he used the EXACT same corny line the FIRST time he said he ghost wrote Dreams.

          A Roman proverb says: “In jest their is truth”.

          Ayer’s response is really, really lame.

          The truth is, Ayer’s wrote Obama’s book and is just covering has academic ass. Ayer’s authorship will undoubedly be confirmed someday through scholarly analysis or other clear evidence. If Ayers flatly denied writing it, he would be exposing himself to a serious academic inquiry for fraud, plagiarism, or whatever.  There are known falsehoods, “composite characters”, and misrepresentations in the Obama/Ayers book. Ayers is just being cunning and trying have it both ways:  getting his political surrogate elected, but without any association to his own highly objectionable ideology or history.

          Ayer’s snarky evasions about his role in writing Obama’s book are well-known and widely reported.

          Author Jack Cashill wrote:

          http://cashill.com/intellect_fraud/time_to_expose.htm

          ‘When asked whether he helped write “Dreams,” Ayers did what he always does: throw a double load of irony at the questioner.’

          ‘“Ayers answered that of course he wrote it — with tongue planted firmly in cheek,” writes Daily Caller editor Jamie Weinstein.’

          By the way, if you want to save yourself some wasted time and effort in trying to debunk the Obama/Ayers book fraud, you might START by reading Jack Cashill’s authoritative expose:

          “Deconstructing Obama”

          http://www.amazon.com/Deconstructing-Obama-Americas-Postmodern-President/dp/B0055X55HK/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1341378727&sr=8-1&keywords=Deconstructing+Obama

          Cashill thoughtfully puts ALL the evidence for Ayer’s fraud in one place. 

          That way, you can spend all your time trolling through dozens’s of dopey moonbat blogs to try to find inane talking points to respond to his evidence.

        • So the opinion of an Oxford University Professor, who people on YOUR side of the argument believed was qualified in this matter, is not real evidence, but a video of Bill Ayers admitting to the rumor in the form of a joke is sufficient evidence to believe he really did it? Don’t tell me this is one of the stupidest arguments you’ve ever heard, I’m being far more rational than you are.

      • Rich, I don’t have a problem with you pointing out inaccuracies in right wing stuff.
        I just have aproblem with you ignoring the same stuff put out by the left.  I mean, your comment “The same standard would apply to Democrats, who are either more ethical than their Republican counterparts or, more likely, not as creative in making up stuff” is so holier-than-thou or head-in-the-sand. 
        Our president constantly makes outlandish claims about what Mitt Romney plans to do to the poor (roast them on a spit, send them to the moon, etc) and he does it with a straight face!  Oh well, at least I can see both sides as playing to win. 
        I did enjoy your piece and will continue to support you bloviating regularly.

        • I’ve listened to a number of President Obama’s speeches and have never heard him make any outlandish claims about what Romney’s economic plans would do to the poor. He certainly didn’t say they would “send them to the moon”, but why don’t you share with me the ‘outlandish’ claims he did make?

          Bonus points if they’re more creative than the vaguely racist rumors about Obama that abound on the right (He’s a muslim, he wasn’t born in this country, etc).

      • > 1) Koch brother lies—just a few

        >  They claim the administration gave money to build electric cars in Finland. Um, no. The Department of Energy funding was specifically for US jobs at US facilities. Sure enough the company is employing 700 workers in California and they’re planning to build a plant in Delaware.

        Gee, Rich.

        It says right here that they’re employing 700 workers in Finland.

        Is Joe Biden now lying to Finnish workers, and the Koch Brothers now telling the truth?

        http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/car-company-us-loan-builds-cars-finland/story?id=14770875

        “Vice President Joseph Biden heralded the Energy Department’s $529 million loan to the start-up electric car company called Fisker as a bright new path to thousands of American manufacturing jobs. But two years after the loan was announced, the company’s manufacturing jobs are still limited to the assembly of the flashy electric Fisker Karma sports car in Finland.

        “There was no contract manufacturer in the U.S. that could actually produce our vehicle,” the car company’s founder and namesake told ABC News. “They don’t exist here.”

        Henrik Fisker said the U.S. money has been spent on engineering and design work that stayed in the U.S., not on the 500 manufacturing jobs that went to a rural Finnish firm, Valmet Automotive.

  2. Wow, this cogent analysis explains what happened in Santa Clara with measure J almost to perfection. So you really were aware of what was going on (tricking people who weren’t terribly astute) and that the measure was/is a “dog-deal” for the city (as you basically admitted in comments to your last column).

    • xr27

      Your distortions are exactly the kind of lies a fair arbiter would be able to spot and report as untruths.

      The stadium is a good deal and the fact no opponent would take up my challenge is not dispositive proof, but very good evidence that I am in the stronger position.  There is no dispositive proof that will suffice to the naysayers until the future comes to pass and the Stadium is built, revenues accrue to the city and the gloom and doom claims do not materialize.

      If I’m wrong, I will admit it.  But if it comes to pass the Stadium is built successfully—how will you make your apologies?  Will you repay the City and the 49ers for holding up a good deal because of your fear?  Or will you myopically never accept the fact you were wrong.  I’m assuming by your posts the latter.

      The opposition has mischaracterized the City, the 49ers and anybody who has a different point of view on the stadium.  They self-righitiously claim truth for themselves, while spewing false information and opining anyone who doesn’t agree with them is a liar, a fool or both.

      Thus your further distortions as to my views and what happened in Measure J and your extropolation of this argument as further proof of your position, is simply sophistry at its worst.  It also conveys that you seek not solutions, but division and regardless of merit—will support he Stadium.

      I understand the concept and you have a right to your opinion, just please do not distort my opinion in a false equivilance that you know not to be true.

    • Wow, just imagine all the money that would have been spent outside of Santa Clara that’s now going to be spent in Santa Clara. Any economist, after analyzing this deal, will tell you what a great deal Santa Clara got. You know this man.

  3. This is more shameless self-promotion.

    Here’s the not-so-subliminal message in everything that you post:

    The system is flawed.  I know how to game the system.  I did it for Santa Clara with Measure J, and I can do it for you too.  Send me your money.

  4. O.K. So no voters are not stupid ……………………..Just miserably lazy. Most dont even try to learn or educate themselves on any topic. They just blindly listen to elected Officials (Mayor Reed) believing that they would never lie,cheat or steal.Then there is the Extremely biased reporting done by the Media (ex: The Mercury news and KLIV radio ) Never once did either of these two outlets give equal time to the other side. never once did either one ever try to explain without bias the other side , Never once did either ever do any fact checking ( ex: Mayor Reed went on KLIV and stated ” City employees enjoy a 90% pension @ 15yrs. with full medical/dental . An outright lie, that nobody corrected)
    And yes , It happens on the otherside as well , but the problem is Most people couldnt be bothered to do their own research. it truely is sad

  5. The problem I have Mr. Robinson, is that you really have no horse in the race. If things don’t work out for the city you don’t really lose anything—given that you live in Cupertino. I see you as part of a long list of individuals who don’t live in the City of Santa Clara but are comfortable telling people who do what’s good for their city.

    I’m using my intuition and common sense here. Can you for instance, give me a listing of alternative events that are going to make significant money for the city? No one to date has come up with one that isn’t a joke.

    Economically speaking NFL stadiums are a mouse that roars. Outside of hugely compensated celebrity employees, NFL teams are not significant employers—check out a program, office staff isn’t very large and most stadium jobs will be a few days a year.

    You basically said in commenting on your own previous editorial that pretty much all cities with sports teams have to subsidize them—given the nature of our city I can’t see the reason why we should be involved with this.

  6. One of my pet peeves is the parochial nature of our valley and the myopic view that if you don’t live in a certain city your views should not count.

    What happens in Santa Clara affects Cupertino.  I eat in Santa Clara, drive through Santa Clara, have friends in Santa Clara, sometimes work in Santa Clara.  But my voice doesn’t count—only residents have an interest?  Horse manure. 

    I’m an American—I travel as I choose, I opine where I want and I have an impact in many communities where I do not vote, but I always have an interest.

    Alternative events:  How about concerts, a College Bowl Game, truck shows, x-games etc.  The Arena is hosting the Olympic Trials this week.  Pac Bell has a College Bowl Game and Concerts when baseball isn’t played.  There are plenty of opportunities for a stadium with the emenities that will be provided.  How about Corporate events in private boxes?

    Employees, maintenance, landscaping, construction jobs, IT, environmental, ticket takers, administrative—in addition, hotels and restaraunts get new employees.  Would Joe Montana and Eddie D. build a Hotel if the Stadium were not going to proceed?  Thus the mulitplier effect.

    Subsidies and deals come in different ways.  The SC deal will make money for the city and its residents and put Santa Clara on the map.  Who would know of Foxborough, MA if not for the Patriots or Green Bay if not for the Packers.

    Your city is the envy of SF, SJ, Fremont, Oakland and every other city who would trade places with you in a NY second. 

    And let me say if Cupertino has an issue—that affects Santa Clara—please opine, even if you can’t vote.  Because you do have an interest—we are neighbors.

    • > Alternative events:  How about concerts, a College Bowl Game, truck shows, x-games etc.  The Arena is hosting the Olympic Trials this week.  Pac Bell has a College Bowl Game and Concerts when baseball isn’t played.  There are plenty of opportunities for a stadium with the emenities that will be provided.  How about Corporate events in private boxes?

      All of “real” events you listed already have homes.

      Where is your evidence that there is ANY unfilled demand that requires taxpayers to take on all the business and financial risk?

    • If you live in Cupertino, you have voted for 3 school parcel taxes and two school bond measures in the past 5 or so years.  So people in Cupertino must believe that schools are important.  Most of the money that won’t be given to the 49ers will go to schools.  Don’t the children living in the Santa Clara Unified School District deserve a good education too?

      • Exactly, people move to Cupertino for the schools. Unfortunately I’ve seen several professional couples move from Santa Clara because of its schools.

        Quality of the school district is the main determinant of a city’s desirability and prestige. Not the absurdity of having a NFL football team (which is so obviously more important to the city council than the schools).

    • I forgot to mention that Los Angles, the second largest media market in the US, has no NFL franchise.  The franchises in Oakland and San Diego want new stadiums, but their respective cities won’t pay to build them.  I don’t believe that SF was all that sad to see the 49ers go.  Why should SF be sad.  It’s still San Francisco 49ers, and when the Super Bowl comes to San Francisco (and it will be San Francisco, and not Santa Clara or the Silicon Valley), we’ll see cable cars, bridges and salt water.  And it won’t cost them a nickel.

      If you watch professional sports on TV, you know that the leagues market themselves as being good for communities.  You get to see all sorts of professional athletes talk about giving back to their respective communities.  Are professional athletes and franchises really committed to helping their communities?  Is this sort of thing really going to benefit the young people living in those communities, or will we get to read about athletes sending naked pictures of themselves, driving drunk or worse?

      If I hear another story about a community down on its luck rallying around a sports franchise, and the sports franchise being a big part of that community’s recovery, I’m going to puke.

      • It’s still San Francisco 49ers, and when the Super Bowl comes to San Francisco (and it will be San Francisco, and not Santa Clara or the Silicon Valley), we’ll see cable cars, bridges and salt water.  And it won’t cost them a nickel.

        Are you brain dead, Candlestick Dump will NEVER see a super bowl.  Heck did they not play the last one at Stanford.  Huge clue.

  7. I laughed so hard when I saw that RR was the author of this article.  He who was paid $22,000 for the 49ers stadium campaign and made false statements such as posting on Facebook that the ‘niners are willing to give $26 million to the schools,’ when in fact the $26 million would really come from our own property tax dollars from the redevelopment agency, not from the stadium itself or from the team.  The team was just willing to take credit for the money when it in fact was coming from Santa Clara itself through its RDA. (His facebook posting is included in the timeline article cited below.)

    Read the timeline on the Santa Clara Plays Fair website. All of the shenanigans conducted by the 49ers campaign and our pro-stadium council members are documented (click on the blue dates to see the shenanigans through time):
    http://www.santaclaraplaysfair.org/index.php/timelinesantaclarastadiumgameplan

    If this was a good deal, the 49ers would not have had to spend $5 million convincing the public that it was a good deal.  That’s $350 per yes vote, more than any other election in the country.  There were about 30 different mailers – slick, expensive, glossy, multipage mailers – that bombarded our mailboxes. The city was carpet bombed with $27,000 worth of yardsigns.  Councilmembers Matthews and Moore bragged on Facebook about doing ‘midnight madness’ driving around Santa Clara in the wee hours of the morning planting yardsigns (FB posting copied onto the timeline article cited above.)

    We were saturated with radio ads – you couldn’t get away from the ads if you tried to use your radio in your car.  We were blasted with biased pro-stadium articles/editorials in the merc and santa clara weekly – both of which (coincidentally, cough cough) received thousands of dollars in advertising revenue from the 49ers campaign and functioned as shills for the stadium.

    The stadium ballot question and ballot language were controlled by the 49ers campaign/Santa Clara’s pro-stadium council members and written to read like an advertisement for the stadium (devoid of costs.)  The fact that the Stadium Authority would take out loans for stadium construction was purposefully left off of the ballot – in fact the 49ers campaign put out a false pie chart of the stadium construction costs which hid the existence of the Stadium Authority (see http://www.santaclaraplaysfair.org).  The ballot measure was approved by voters without disclosing that any loans would be taken out.  18 months later, whoops! The Stadium Authority is on the hook for $950 million in previously undisclosed loans. Some here in Santa Clara call that ballot fraud, others call it a bait and switch (just like high speed rail, another one of RR’s clients.)

    It is now the Stadium Authority which is under scrutiny by the county auditor and RDA oversight committee.  It is the Stadium Authority which accepted a loan from the 49ers for $30 million, and which cannot pay back that loan because the oversight committee severed the money pipeline between the RDA and the Stadium Authority.  Perhaps if the 49ers campaign had been honest with voters about the existence of the Stadium Authority and the plans for the enormous loans, the voters would have had complete information on which to make a decision.  But we didn’t because $5 million buys you a lot of hype and freedom of speech in campaigns means that the truth about the costs doesn’t have to be disclosed.

    BTW, reading the recent Merc article on funding for the stadium, it appears that the loans have not yet funded, either from the banks or the NFL.  The loans were supposed to fund 2 months ago.  Maybe the banks have finally figured out that a 100% debt financed stadium isn’t a good idea, and that there won’t be enough money from psls, naming rights and non-NFL stadium revenues to pay the debt and the operating costs.

  8. “If the public had a credible arbiter who, regardless of political philosophy, had a system to alert voters of untrue information, it would be of great public service.”

    Rich, I whole-heartedly agree.  However, I am so disillusioned with local government right now that I wonder how such a credible arbiter could exist.  I’m afraid that someone would infiltrate it and buy their way to credibility.

    I value honesty, integrity, and transparency.  I welcome civil discourse, debate, and open vetting of the issues.  But watching what has happened with Measures V, W, and B, I have come to believe that there is not a trustworthy soul among our leaders, or at least among Reed and his five supporters on the Council.  Half-truths, and outright lies were (and continue to be) put out to the public via the media time after time after time.  When interviewed regarding pension reform, the Mayor is only lobbed soft-balls, no hard questions. no honest analysis.  Only Reed’s politically expedient sound bites.

    I doubt the average voter knows:
    1. The SJ Police and Fire Pension Fund is 85% funded.  Any financial expert will tell you that this is very healthy.
    2. According to the City Manager herself, the pension costs are projected to be virtually flat over the next five years.
    3. Before measure B, almost 20% of my pay check goes toward my pension.  This is substantially higher than any other agency in the country.  (Most contribute between 0 and 9%.)
    4. Measure B will require that I contribute an ADDITIONAL 16% (in increments of 4% per year for the next four years) plus, half the unfunded liability, up to an additional 8%.  That’s a total of 44% of my pay check that will be required to go toward my pension.  Seriously?  Who puts 44% away toward retirement?  And who can live on 56% of his/her income (minus taxes, medical, etc.?)
    5. The voters were lead to believe that I would be able to opt-in to a less expensive plan if I wanted to avoid these high costs.  This is absolutely false, and the Mayor, Council, and City Manager know it.  There is no opt-in plan.  There is likely never to be one.  Debra Figone herself wrote a memo to City employees explaining that an opt-in plan would have to be approved by the IRS.  What she doesn’t say (but well knows) is that this approval would require the legislature to change the tax code.  This is not likely to happen any time soon, if ever.  Other municipalities have been waiting years for such approval, and zero have been approved to date. Plus, I am not even allowed to opt out of the retirement plan altogether.

    Rich, as you know, this is not hyperbole.  This is not union propaganda.  All of the above are facts.  Anyone can read the measure and verify what I’ve written.  Measure B is altogether obscene.  Before Measure B, SJPD is dead-last in compensation among Bay Area agencies, and far below other Santa Clara County agencies.  Take away an additional 24% from that, and who in his or her right mind would come work for SJPD?  It is no wonder that officers are leaving by the dozen.  Heck, I could make substantially more as an officer at most any other Bay Area agency than I do as a supervisor in San Jose.  But it’s no simple thing to leave and start over somewhere else.  Plus, I love SJPD!  It’s a great agency.  There are phenomenal people here, extremely well-trained, well-educated, dedicated men and women who truly care about the residents of San Jose, and who love what they do.  The people of San Jose have no idea what their leaders have done.  They don’t know how badly they’ve been duped.  They have only begun to see the consequences of a decimated, neutered police department.  These are sad times indeed for the City.

    So yes, unfortunately sometimes “the masses are asses.”  Our government leaders should be trustworthy.  We should be able to believe them.  But they’re not and we can’t.  So people need to wake up and do their own research.  And if you have an idea of how to implement a “credible arbiter,” by all means, let’s do it!

    Thanks for the article, and for the opportunity to vent.

  9. Very true for all of the pension measures around the countyr. Pensions are blamed for everything; most recently Stockton’s need to file banktruptcy. In the newspaper article I read about it said, the city and the creditors could not reach agreement so the city will have to file bankruptcy due to the pension costs eating through the city resources.  Ummmm it should be obvious that Stockton took on more debt than it could afford—irrespective of pensions. Thus, it is not ALL the fault of pension obligations. It is the fault of out of control spending leading to out of control debt obligations as well as special projects.  Just look at SJC. It has enormous debt related to projects that do not produce enough revenue to cover the obligations (i.e. parking garages; city hall).  It also has way too many special projects that eat up the budget.  It has three different funds for low, moderate, affordable housing.  Why are multiple funds for the same thing needed—they are not. Smart voters would demand an accurate accounting of how every dollar is spent and what each fund does and a justification for its existence before it blames pensions for everything and feeds into the rhetoric and make an uneducated vote.

  10. The Economist recently opined that the NFL was suffering from a case of “imperial bloat”. The league has had an incredible run of success for 50 years now, but there’s no guarantee that this continues into the future. At any rate, the future seems to hold more people eschewing the stadium experience and connecting with the games/teams via home theaters and the internet.

    This doesn’t bode well for the Santa Clara stadium.

  11. Rich Heller, look at the NFL’s own Super Bowl history site.  According to the NFL, the last Super Bowl entries on that page were played at “Cowboys Stadium, North Texas” and “Miami Gardens, Florida”.

    http://www.nfl.com/superbowl/history

    That was my point.  The game might be played within the city limits of Santa Clara, CA, but it’ll be promoted as “San Francisco”, the “San Francisco Bay Area”,  “Northern California” or heaven forbid, “California”.

    • Are you kidding?  When BO became President this country was a week away from being pronounced dead.

      BO saved the economy and GM.  (Romney complains he didn’t do enough—yet his own party obstructed at every opportunity, Romney opposed GM bailout, then took credit for its rebound—are you kidding me?)

      BO got Bin Laden—Bush didn’t care and when he was trapped in Tora Bora, Rumsfield refused to give the order.  (Now Republicans are claiming BO is “spiking the ball” by taking credit, and Rumsfield says it was an “easy” call)

      Bush landed on an Aircraft Carrier with the sign ‘Mission Accomplished’—Obama is now getting us out of that war.  Bush spiked the ball before he got to the endzone.  When Rumsfield had the chance for an “easy” call—he froze.

      BO got a national healthcare system.  A goal of every President since Truman, not a perfect system, but it passed and is a huge benefit for most Americans.

      Romney says he wants to repeal it—and he was the first to advance the same program in MA.  His mandate was a tax in MA. 

      The stock market is over 12,500—BO inherited it as 7,300.  With all the talk of job losses, when BO took office we were losing 750,000 a month, we are now gaining jobs and the trend would have continued except for the Republican austerity program—Even with the republican obstruction, we are still gaining jobs.

      The deficit doubled under Reagan, Bush 1 and Bush 2.  It grew under Clinton but was coming down.  In a recession, it is going up under BO, but not nearly the percentages that were expected (and some say needed) to get us out of the Bush depression.

      The Republicans saw the greatest transfer of wealth in our history—to the top 2%.  50% of Americans are now low income and poor.  It is this group that Republicans want to tax.  The top 2% gained more in the past 30 years than any other group in America—and Republcians are calling for less taxes on them—really?

      Who is killing this country?  It ain’t the current President.

      Killing this country,  the Republcans continue to kill this country—and openly explain the desire is simply to replace this President.

      • I don’t dispute these facts, Rich.  My only question is to what degree did any these presidents control many of these things?  During much of Clinton’s presidency, the GOP controlled congress.  During much of Bush’s presidency, the Democrats controlled congress.  Correlation does not always equal causation.

        • The Republicans controlled Congress for 6 years under Bush.  The Dems controlled Congress for two under Obama.  The bulk of the Obama agenda was accomplished in the first two years. 

          The difference was that when the country was in trouble and Bush wanted the TARP program overnight and the economy was melting down—even though it was a bailout of the banks, democrats agreed to go along for the good of the country.  When it came to bady armor for our troops, defense expenditures, no child left behind and raising the debt ceiling—Democrats did not obstruct to the point nothing got done.

          It was different when Reeps took over the house.  In fact, when the Reeps were a minority in the Senate—they used the filibuster a record number of times of obstruct the President’s agenda-whether it was for jobs or the dream act etc.  The Republicans have one agenda, stop the economy and thus, retake power.  They openly admit to it.  It is why they created the debt ceiling crisis and obstructed this President—even on issues they previously agreed with. . .it is unAmerican.

      • > BO saved the economy and GM
        > BO got Bin Laden
        > BO got a national healthcare system
        > The stock market is over 12,500—BO inherited it as 7,300.

        Oh my!  The man is a miracle worker!

        I judge that you are quite confident that you and David Axelrod will be able to convince the average idiot voter of BO’s magnificence.

        That being the case, give us your prediction for the outcome of the election:

        1.) What percent of the popular vote will Obama win?

        2.) How many states will Obama carry?

        3.) How many electoral votes will Obama win?

        4.) How many U.S. Senate seats will the Democrats gain?

        5.) How many U.S. House of Representative seats will the Democrats gain?

        Don’t hold back, Rich.  I know Democrats who are holding back their celebrations because Fox News has scared them about the election.  But they shouldn’t wait.

        The election is in the bag, so Democrats should PARTY HEARTY NOW!

  12. There you go again, RR, spewing facts. You know how much many of the denizens of this site despise facts, yet you continue to cite them. Thanks.

  13. I think we actually have a constitutional Republican form of government whereby the people elect trusted representatives to carry out the public business while they carry on with their lives.

    I admit, there’s some direct democracy in the form of initiative, referendum and recall that came out of the 1920’s progressive movement based on disgust with machine politicians, but it only took root in like 28 states or so (of which CA is one).

    But really, people are smarter than your give them credit for and the more slanted and biased the ads and hit pieces, the more people go against you.  The sad result of the rise of political operatives is that people are increasingly just opting out of what they view as a “game” and not voting at all.

    I think the next generation can and will be more engaged, we just have to show them that the system can work if given half a chance and some of the static is cleared out.  And as Tip O’Neal was quoted as saying “All politics is local” meaning we need to see and feel it for it to be real for us.  Reminds me of this environmental slogan. grin